THE unexpected closure of a popular walking path in Mornington has angered users, who say “mismanagement” of long-running drainage problems prevented erosion issues not being remedied decades ago.
The 750-metre Beleura cliff path, which snakes its way down from the Mornington cliffs to Mills beach, was closed by council workers last week and barriers erected.
Regular path users and residents whose properties access the path say its closure is an “act of mismanagement” and a “slap in the face to volunteers” who have spent years revegetating the path to reduce erosion and keep it safe and open.
Convenor of the Beleura cliff path steering group, Peter Nicholson, said volunteers were unhappy with the “secrecy” around the decision to close the path and had not been consulted.
“The decision was apparently recommended by the legal department of the shire, but it’s all shrouded in secrecy; it’s all to do with liability, not safety. Kids will inevitably try to scramble round the barriers and walk on the cliff,” he said.
Already, just days after the barriers were erected, two had already been cut open.
Nicholson said the whole drainage question had been managed “in an appallingly ineffective way for twenty years”, leading to landslips that were preventable.
“This closure is another act mismanagement,” he said.
He said path users were concerned the closure would “drag on”, as there didn’t seem to be a clear plan to fix drainage problems that had caused water coming from properties along the cliff to erode and destabilise the path.
Several landslips have damaged the path since the early 2000s, costing the shire around $500,000 in repairs.
The council has since tightened planning requirement around storm water, and new houses are now required to pump their surplus water up to the road.
Dennis Warren, who lives near the path, said there had been no more slippages since a small slip last year, “so I don’t understand why now they decided to close the path”.
“Hundreds of people use this path almost daily, we have worked had to revegetate and were just starting to get things happening, and now this,” he said.
“It’s very disappointing, and it’s crazy timing with summer coming and school holidays here.”
The path is a scenic track that offers users stunning views of the coast and the rocky beach below.
The council’s acting manager climate change and sustainability, Laura Crilly, said it had made the decision to “temporarily close a section” of the Beleura Cliff Path due to engineering advice.
“This advice is that the remaining overhanging material from two landslips poses an unacceptable risk to people using the path,” Crilly said.
“While this news is unfortunate, we have an obligation to act now to manage the risk to public safety. Our intent is to work quickly to find a solution to safely reopen the path again soon.”