NEPEAN Ratepayers’ Association has warned that it will not stop criticising the state government until it takes action to restore sand to the Portsea front beach.
The association says research proves that the sand loss is the result of the February 2008 to November 2009 dredging and deepening of the shipping channel into Port Phillip.
It says the solution – near-shore reconfiguration dredging – was recommended in a consultants’ report commissioned and paid for by the government.
That option, one of six outlined in a report by Advisian, would divert the wave swell that had evolved since the dredging away from the protective sandbag wall erected in 2009.
“Unfortunately, when this report was eventually presented to [Energy, Environment and Climate Change Minister Lily D’Ambrosio] she chose to remove the existing sandbag wall and replace it with a permanent rock revetment wall, which would do nothing to defect the wave energy which is the root cause of the problem,” Nepean Ratepayers’ Association president Colin Watson said.
The association, through the legal firm Beatty Hughes and Associates, in a letter on 26 September asked for a meeting with D’Ambrosio.
However, despite also asking for a response by 17 October, the minister had not responded by last Friday, 28 October.
The Beatty Hughes letter includes a chronology of conditions observed and actions taken at Portsea and nearby beaches from November 2007 to the current day.
It quotes Water Technology’s February 2022 Portsea Coastal Process and Groyne Feasibility Study prepared for Mornington Peninsula Shire as concluding “that the erosion at Portsea is caused by increased swell wave heights due to increased internal reflections trapping more swell waves along the south side of the shipping channel following the [channel deepening]; and identifies that these same “man-made” coastal processes have caused the accumulation of approximately 50,000 cubic metres of visible sand … along Shelley Beach and Point King Beach”.
“Our client, and its 368 members, are extremely concerned about the ongoing failure to appropriately address and manage the known causes of the erosion at Point Nepean Beach and Portsea front beach,” Beatty Hughes states.
Watson says D’Ambrosio’s decision to build a rock wall was “a very poor decision” that would do nothing to restore sand to the beach.
Her department had not worked with the shire to remediate the beach and had since spent “another $2.5 million on repairing the sandbag wall built in 2009” which had caused more erosion east and west of Portsea pier.
Watson said a claim could have been made against a $100m environment bond if the government had admitted in 2009 that channel deepening was to blame.
“Instead, we have had 13 years of lies and deceit and the government has spent $8-$9m on Band Aid solutions and the issue is worsening daily,” he said.
“Now that the government has been caught out one would have thought they would change their position and work with the community to agree on a peaceful resolution and save face.
“As a key stakeholder in this matter since 2012 the NRA won’t be going away until we succeed in working with the government to pay for the near shore reconfiguration dredging option which will remediate the Portsea front beach.”