Delays to fix crumbling cliffs


Under pressure: As debris is washed away from crumbling cliffs at Mt Martha Beach North the gap between beach boxes and the cliff widens. The cliffs are also inching closer to the Esplanade.

ROCKS will not be brought in to prevent further crumbling of cliffs at Mt Martha Beach North until after winter.

Although five beach boxes have been already been demolished others may need to be removed – and later replaced – before the $880,000 rock revetment can be started.

At least 10 of the 40 remaining beach boxes are leaning sideways or have sagging or broken stumps.

Last week’s storms saw more landslides behind the bathing boxes, which during certain times of the tide cover the only sand remaining on the ever-widening beach.

Experts have warned that continued crumbling of the cliffs threatens the stability of the Esplanade.

Michael Pollock, a senior media advisor at the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, said last week that “physical works [on the rock revetment] will commence after winter, based on the [already completed geo-technical] risk analysis”.

“Some beach boxes may need to be temporarily removed to create access for the works,” Mr Pollock said.

“If this is the case, the specific boxes will be identified through the process and DEWLP will communicate directly with individual box owners.”

Mornington Peninsula Shire’s municipal building surveyor manager David Kotsiakos said the damaged beach boxes could not be repaired “for safety reasons” until the rock revetment was in place.

“Once the revetment is completed by DELWP, the shire will review what other works are required to repair all of the damaged sheds and issue appropriate orders,” Mr Kotsiakos said.

Aboriginal middens on the eroded cliff will also require a cultural heritage management plan before any work can be undertaken.

The shire officially closed the beach in September 2017, although this has not stopped it being used on a daily basis or repairs being carried out to beach boxes.

Owners of the bathing boxes and members of the Mt Martha Beach Group say a 25 metre long rock groyne should be built north of the beach to prevent further loss of sand.

Consultants put the groyne cost at $330,000, although other remedies suggested in a July 2017 report by Water Technology cost up to $4 million.

Port Phillip Conservation Council president Len Warfe, who wants all the bathing boxes removed, says science shows “groynes invariably relocate the original problem to some other part of the coast – so that it becomes someone else’s problem” (“Call for beach boxes to go” The News 13/2/18).

The Water Technology report recommends removing all boat sheds at Mt Martha north unless action is taken to stop further erosion of the cliff and beach.

The report, commissioned by DELWP, warns that by 2040 sea level rises “will make this a difficult location to maintain a beach”. A similar recommendation in 2002, by the former Department of Environment and Conservation was overturned after becoming a political issue.

Energy, Environment and Climate Change Minister Lily D’Ambrosio says while $880,000 will be spent protecting the base of the cliff DELWP will also have a closer look at “engineering solutions” to prevent further erosion of the beach and cliff (“Beach ‘repairs’ could cost $4m” The News 31/10/17).

First published in the Mornington News – 24 April 2018


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