Second sand swap to protect beach


THE loss of sand from the front of beach boxes at Mount Martha North has left front verandahs high above the waterline, while continual landslides at the rear threaten to extend inland towards the Esplanade. Pictures: Keith Platt

DESPITE the advice of experts to the contrary, Flinders MP Greg Hunt and members of the Mt Martha Beach Group Committee say an “engineering solution” can be used to stop sand erosion.

Starting this week, 10,000 cubic metres of sand will be taken from Mount Martha South beach to its sand-depleted northern end.

The work is being carried out by the state Department of Environment Land Water and Planning with $1.5 million provided by the federal government.

However, both Mr Hunt and the Mt Martha Beach Group Committee want the money spent on providing sand and building a rock groyne in the water that they claim will retain the trucked-in sand.

The group has told Energy, Environment and Climate Change Minister Lily D’Ambrosio that sand could be imported to neighbouring Hawker Beach (“on an as required basis”) if it further deteriorated as a result of the groyne.

The DELWP said the sand being taken to Mount Martha North beach was “aimed at protecting the adjacent shoreline and associated vegetation by increasing the beach width”.

The department’s regional director Port Phillip, Steve Chapple, said the sand transfer would take about two weeks. “Consistent with recent study findings that showed no engineering treatment would return sand long-term to Mount Martha North Beach without additional adverse effects, DELWP is not progressing hard structure options such as groynes for the beach.”

He said sensors had been placed in the ground to monitor movement in the “large slip behind the bathing boxes”.

Problems with erosion and landslips are not new to the north beach and authorities have struggled to find a permanent solution, including moving the beach boxes altogether.

Mornington MP David Morris told state parliament in 2013 that it took just three years for 12,000 cubic metres of sand to be washed away from Mount Martha north beach (“Beach sands run out as storms move in” The News 8/8/16). Since then sand has come and gone according to the seasons, with several beach boxes being undermined and demolished.

Areas at the south and north beaches will be closed during working hours while the sand transfer is under way – including near bathing boxes.

The DELWP has issued a newsletter urging beachgoers to “be aware there are many unpredictable and unforecastable natural hazards along this foreshore, including landslides and rock falls. Beach and bathing box users should always remain vigilant”.

“Due to the nature of safety risks, breaches of access will be taken seriously. A traffic management buggy will be on site to manage public safety along the beach.”

First published in the Mornington News – 24 November 2020


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