THERE’S still no sign of fencing to close off the popular swimming spot the Pillars – as decreed by a Mornington Peninsula Shire Council meeting on 24 January.
At that meeting, councillors voted to erect temporary fencing to close off the site for a two-year trial, pending discussions with Aboriginal Affairs Victoria and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.
They also voted to appoint an officer to promote awareness and educate visitors on the need to close the Pillars to protect its cultural heritage, preserve the natural environment and reduce the number of visitors jumping from the cliff face.
Property and strategy manager Yasmin Woods said last week the council was “in the process of developing an implementation plan and working through required approvals to implement its decisions”.
“Letters have been sent to Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, and the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs,” she said.
“The shire is currently working through the implementation plan as per the council decision. This includes working with DELWP on gaining support for the project.”
She said rangers and Victoria police would continue to monitor the site, undertake parking patrols, and discourage people from accessing the area.
Since that January meeting, the shire has placed high-pedestrian activity and cliff warning signs on the Esplanade; banned alcohol on a trial basis; put in no-stopping November-April parking restrictions on one side of streets with high parking demand; put bollards in strategic locations along the Esplanade to prevent parking and allow a space for pedestrians to walk, and maintained weekly litter collection in surrounding streets.
Ms Woods said nearly 1000 infringements had been issued on Deakin Drive and Marguerita Av over the past two years. Four shire rangers patrol the area for two hours every day from December to March. Police patrol from 3pm daily during January, including along the Esplanade in Mornington.
“VicRoads continues to trim roadside vegetation along the Esplanade to create more space for pedestrians to walk along the road shoulder,” she said.
The shire previously voted to write to Aboriginal Affairs Victoria seeking their direction to reinforce and protect the cultural heritage values of the Pillars in accordance with the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act. It also voted to write to DELWP to seek their “direction and advice on putting in place legal processes to prohibit public access to the Pillars”.
“In the event that the shire fails to gain support for the resolutions, Mornington Peninsula Shire will commence the process of handing back the Committee of Management responsibility to DELWP for the Pillars section of the Mount Martha Foreshore between Ellerina Rd and Bay Rd.”