MANY Mornington Peninsula towns are faced with a future that will require coping with the impact of rising sea levels, eroding beaches and crumbling cliffs.
Surrounded by sea on three sides, the peninsula’s 190-kilometre coast varies from steep cliffs and sandy surf beaches facing Bass Strain to low lying mangrove swamps in northern reaches of Western Port to the beaches of Port Phillip from Portsea to Mount Eliza.
Cliffs are eroding at Mount Martha and Mount Eliza and rock walls are the last line of defence from the sea at Safety Beach and Rosebud.
Sand bags have become the norm at Portsea front beach, sand has been lost at McCrae and Mornington and a road reserve at Balnarring “absorbed” into the foreshore.
As possibly one of the most vulnerable Victorian municipalities to the effects of rising sea levels, Mornington Peninsula Shire is opening itself up to suggestions from residents about how to protect their towns and coastline.
Two planning scheme amendments (C271morn and C282morn) are aimed at seeing new developments in Western Port “respond to erosion and inundation hazards from predicted sea level rise” as well as ensuring industrial and commercial buildings “respect the height, scale and design of existing buildings”.
One the other side of the peninsula, the shire wants suggestions for Coastal and Marine Management Plans for the beaches and foreshores in manages at Flinders, Mount Eliza and Portsea.
A shire news release states that “iconic” Portsea’s front beach “has experienced change in recent years, highlighting the dynamic coastal environment presenting a range of management challenges”. No mention is made of the tens of millions of dollars spent sand bagging the beach and building a protective rock wall.
The Portsea plan will cover the coast from Police Point to Hemston Avenue, which includes the pier and Shelley Beach.
The next plan being looked at is Mount Eliza, from Manmangur Creek at Sunnyside Beach in the south, north to Kackeraboite Creek in Daveys Bay.
The shire says the area needs “sustainable and balanced management” as it is “already facing impacts of climate change, including cliff and beach erosion hazards…”
Across the peninsula at Flinders, the coast under consideration stretches from West Head to Shoreham but does not include the car park at the end of King Street where there are ongoing landslides.
The shire says it is gathering an understanding of what “our community loves” about Flinders, Mount Eliza and Portsea, “what they would change and their ideas for the future of these areas”.
It says each of the three plans “will guide sustainable management of these iconic and valued coastlines for years to come”.
The towns on the other side of the peninsula where land is subject to the planning scheme amendments are Hastings, Tyabb, Bittern, Crib Point, Balnarring and Balnarring Beach, Flinders, Red Hill and Red Hill South, Somers, Merricks and Merricks Beach, Point Leo and Shoreham.
Public and online meetings for the Western Port towns start Wednesday 9 March and details are available at: mornpen.vic.gov.au/c271-c282
To find out more about the Flinders, Mount Eliza and Portsea Coastal plans go to: mornpen.vic.gov.au/coastalplans