The Victorian State Government has released this year’s revised iteration of the Victorian Coastal Strategy. The Strategy provides a long-term vision for planning, management and sustainable use of the Victorian coast, a hierarchy of principles to guide decision-making, as well as policies and actions to be delivered over the next five years.
Jon Hickman, the Chairman of the Victorian Coastal Council, told the Herald-Sun that with Melbourne’s population set to almost double by 2050, a balance will need to be struck between people wanting to visit the coast and preservation of fragile areas.
“We’re not going to be able to do everything that everyone wants,” he said. “For example, areas where people can and can’t go and the maximum number of people that may be able to go to a particular area at a particular time.”
Environment Minister Ryan Smith said coastal commercial activities were worth $9.8 billion a year, including 23,000 tourism jobs. “With this in mind, it is important that governments are able to reach the right balance between supporting a strong economy that creates jobs in our coastal areas, and protecting our environment,” he told the Herald-Sun.
Mr Smith said the Government was providing $44 million for works such as re-nourishing beaches, rejuvenating park and tourism facilities and improving access and safety on the coast.
The 2008 Victorian Coastal Strategy addressed three major coastal issues – climate change, population growth and marine ecological integrity. The 2014 strategy addresses five key issues – managing population growth, adapting to a changing climate, managing coastal land and infrastructure, valuing the natural environment and integrating marine planning.
Actions outlined in the revised strategy to address the key issues include the following:
- Analysis of options for improved governance and funding arrangements for coastal Crown land and integrated marine planning and improved governance of coastal waters;
- Review and update sea level rise benchmarks every five years;
- Identify and initiate action where needed for coastal locations where visitor impacts may exceed carrying capacity;
- Adapt decision-making guidelines for project approvals as necessary to ensure the full value of environmental, coastal and marine resources are considered; and
- Investigate legislative change to ensure ongoing access to beaches and/or coastal Crown land.
A coordinating committee, including inter-departmental and lead agency representatives, will be established to enable a cross-governmental approach to implementation of the strategy, with the aim of developing an implementation plan within a year.
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