The Draft Eastern Beaches Foreshore Management Plan to be discussed by Noosa Council this week will be a test for our Councillors watched closely by our community waiting for action.
Is this Council ready to do something about the environmental vandalism that’s rampant along our coast, or will they continue to look the other way?
The ‘Plan’ identifies that the current Shire-wide Encroachment Policy budget is ZERO. That’s right, not one dollar.
And in the right hand column above, allocating ‘half’ of one technical officer and ‘half’ a Local Laws officer to this widespread and worsening problem will simply allow the lack of accountability and the buck-passing to continue.
This, despite the 2021 Coastal Hazards Adaptation Plan identifying a “critical and immediate priority for Council”.
This Plan proposes to increase the budget to $415,000, but only for Council “Encroachment policy development and implementation”. Ecological restoration of the entire Eastern Beaches zone is only $128K per year of which $75K depends on the work of volunteers.
For several years now, Council has delayed tackling the problem of beachfront owners encroaching on, and damaging, our dune system, blaming a lack of a clear policy to act on.
In mid 2020 a senior Council officer wrote this to community groups:
“We will be developing a policy to take to Council in the next couple of months with recommendations on how to deal with all new encroachments. We have a lot of issues with ‘implied approval’ through lack of action on some issues over a period of time. This will allow us to progress new instances now (such as pushing out of boundaries, new seats and furniture in the dunes, etc) while a Coastal Management Plan is completed.”
Now, more than two years later, we still wait for any sign of action.
The Eastern Beaches Foreshore Management Plan before Council this week is straight out of Yes Minister.
It’s a plan to develop a policy to consider doing something…eventually.
The Council seems to advance in fear of litigation and go nowhere. However, they accept that trespass is trespass.
Successive Noosa Councils have ignored Foreshore Management for many years and left it to volunteers to work on protecting and rehabilitating the dunes.
As our submission to Council stated, the community wants “Council to take a proactive, zero tolerance approach to illegal appropriation of public land, degradation of public land through removal of native vegetation, the unauthorised planting on public land and the dumping of rubbish or landfill on public land”.
Council needs to make a Policy decision NOW to take a zero tolerance approach to these matters, nominate which area of Council is responsible for enforcing the policy to stop the buck passing, fund it appropriately and require the Council staff to implement it NOW.
Waiting for further consultation is just another way to defer, delay and disappoint the community which has been going on for too long.