MidCoast Council’s recent approval of a plan to manage an access track at North One Mile Beach, in accordance with the Great Lakes coastal zone management plan, has ruffled feathers in the community, with a group of residents unhappy about the lack of community consultation.
Council’s plan is to maintain the beach access track at Gleeson Avenue, which has been used regularly for more than 50 years by residents and visitors.
The decision was made after a report was presented by council staff, at a recent meeting, concluding the track was in need of management as it had been widened over time by use.
The management plan includes re-installing fencing to minimise the pedestrian impact on the dune, which is the subject of ongoing regeneration work.
But members of the community, including resident David Rankin have objected to the report’s findings, claiming incorrect information was presented in the report.
“There are more than 100 locals who are against the development,” David said.
“For one thing, we are outraged at the lack of community consultation in the matter. A report that took over six months to prepare was approved with no public consultation.
“It was imperative that consultation with local residents take place and residents therefore could comment, agree or disagree and discuss.
“I’ve been living here for 35 years and there has never been more vegetation than what exists today.
“They are going to reduce the track to a two metre walkway, but that is not wide enough. The track has a lot of foot traffic in the summer. With a two metre walkway you can’t even have two people with surfboards walking together.”
Council’s director of community spaces and services, Paul De Szell said it was important to note that community access to the beach at that point will continue.
“There are no plans to stop access, this is about formalising the path to provide a clear area for pedestrians and provide protection to the dune in accordance with coastal dune management manual and the Great Lakes coastal zone management plan,” he said.
But David explained his objection was not in regard to the conservation of the natural environment, but with the lack of community consultation.
“We are not against dune care, but when you’ve done what needs to be done, leave it alone and let nature do its bit,” he said.
“Council staff’s inability to communicate with residents who retain huge amounts of historical knowledge, will now result in the removal of a natural setting.
“The iconic dune has had its huge share of sporadic interference over decades. This has included steel wire rope, fertilising, selective poisoning, constant weed infestation, dozing the dune, plastic mesh fencing, dumping of road base on top of the dune, leaving buried past fences and posts which all need removal.”