DESPITE hours of meetings, speaking with residents, writing reports and to-ing and fro-ing with government departments, Mornington Peninsula Shire Council is almost back to square one with its management of The Pillars.
The council last week moved to adopt its draft long term management plan for the contentious cliff jumping site at Mt Martha and asked the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning for more support to help manage the area.
The council will now concentrate on making it safe for visitors to The Pillars; controlling traffic and parking; and running an “education and enforcement campaign”.
In 2016, the shire received money from DELWP to develop the plan which encouraged feedback from residents angry about overuse of The Pillars and the impacts caused by hordes of day trippers.
Community meetings were held in 2016-17, with management options workshopped at an information session in February.
The draft long term management plan finally went on public exhibition after this year’s 22 May council meeting. Over the following six-weeks 22 submissions were received, some of which have been used to develop action plans and possible management options for The Pillars during summer.
Long term management options were developed in line with the four principles of the Victorian Coastal Strategy: Ensure the protection of significant environmental and cultural values, undertake integrated planning and provide clear direction for the future, and ensure the sustainable use of natural coastal resources.
The draft management plan also considered a cliff top boardwalk, banning jumping and fencing off The Pillars, the latter two suggestions were quickly abandoned.
The boardwalk could still be an option, but not unless the state government climbs aboard with some money.
Other issues considered in the plan included the obvious ones of dangers faced by cliff jumpers and pedestrians walking along the Esplanade to The Pillars.
But it is parking and traffic congestion in nearby streets, anti-social behaviour, erosion of the cliff face, loss of vegetation, litter and access for emergency services that most concerns nearby residents.
The council has revoked a January 2017 decision to hand back management of the area to DELWP.