Noosa Council is approaching one of those interesting junctions when we may learn something about where we are heading as a community.
In just a few weeks we will have a much clearer idea of whether this Council is serious about tackling the scourge of beachfront landowners stealing, encroaching-on and damaging the precious dunes that we rely on to protect our coast.
Fly with us on a bird’s eye view of our Eastern Beaches. It is a graphic lesson in the ignorance and entitlement of some of those privileged few perched on our dunes.
- We see scores of beach ‘rat runs’ from backyards slicing through dunes to save a slightly longer walk via the properly made public beach accesses.
- We see vital native plants hacked down and replaced with lawns on top of tonnes of trucked in dirt and fill.
- We see invasive weed spreading rapidly across these dunes.
- We see outdoor furniture placed on fragile beachfront public dunes with “private – keep out” signs.
We know all of this is brazen and illegal, clearly in breach of State laws. And to compound the madness, we know that these short-sighted folk are increasing the risk to their own homes.
This is an issue that is right in Council’s face. Community and Bushcare groups along the Eastern beaches have been raising the alarm for the past few years.
And yet, until now our Council has – for the most part – deliberately looked the other way.
A frustrated community demands action
The local volunteers who spend thousands of hours protecting our dunes and beaches are not happy.
The Marcus Beach Bushcare Association recently organised a petition calling for Council action against two of the latest incursions into the dunes, and more generally demanding a “proactive, zero tolerance approach to illegal appropriation of public land, incursions into public land, and degradation of this land by unauthorised planting and dumping of fill.”
They gathered 284 signatures – 265 of them locals – and they say only four locals they approached refused to sign.
Councillor Brian Stockwell presented their petition to Council’s monthly Ordinary meeting on Thursday and Council heard directly from some of those demanding action.
Jude Tulloch, President – Marcus Beach Bushcare Association:
“We are supportive of the work currently being done to develop a Coastal Management Plan. However, we believe that the encroachments require immediate action. We expect that Council will send a clear message to builders and new property owners that, irrespective of past practices, Noosa Council is now taking a firm stand on this issue.”
Consultant ecologist Chris Hansen gave Council an expert’s view on the massive damage being done to our coastal eco-system:
Barry Cotterell. President Peregian Beach Community Association:
As Council staff are blaming a lack of policy for this debacle, we ask Councillors to make a Policy, but then to require staff to get out of the office and implement it before it is too late.
The alternative is to again delay and defer resulting in further damage and the community can continue to be disappointed.
Local politics about to be put to the test
A Coastal Management Plan, already long overdue, is being prepared for presentation to Council next month. For too long, this “review” and “policy formulation” has been the fig leaf used by Council to cover its inaction.
We know that Council officers are beginning to feel the heat on this issue along with the embarrassment of being seen to avoid a confrontation with privileged environmental vandals.
While Councillors with strong environmental credentials are urging action, some within Council say this will be a particular test for some of our more recently elected Councillors who have friends and neighbours that may have a strong, personal interest on both sides of this issue.
So, are we approaching a day of reckoning for beachfront vandals who are just “doing what their neighbours got away with for years”? Or will our Council begin to get serious about protecting our dunes and enforcing the law?
Our beachfront community groups and bush-carers are tired of the excuses. Tired of a Council looking the other way. There will be a lot of interest in how this issue evolves in the weeks ahead.