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Analysis of Hyder

Safety

Safety is given the largest weighting (45%), with environment following (30%), then usability (10%), capital (10%) and operational costs (5%).

Of greatest concern is that the consultants have nullified the two greatest safety risks identified by the Inquiry Panel (October 2008) as they considered them to be consistent across all proposed developments. These are:

> risk of breaking waves at a breakwater head causing catastrophic events, and

> the attraction of inexperienced boaters into dangerous seas.

        AMCSearch, the commercial arm of the Australian Maritime College, nullify the first major concern of the Panel by basing their safety analysis on the assumption that there are no breaking waves at the breakwater head. Marine engineers have advised that in reality, there is little likelihood that this assumption could be met.

        The Hyder consultants avoid the second issue by saying usability is based on ‘metocean’ conditions and skipper/user skill. Yet, the Panel, gave ‘great weight to the very serious consequences of encouraging inexperienced boat users to put to sea in what they may believe to be safe conditions behind the breakwater, only to find that, at the end of it they must negotiate side-on waves that threaten to capsize them.’

        >  High safety risks can readily be addressed through appropriate and well considered management practices and will be found to be much more cost effective and practical. i.e. closing the facility to boating at predetermined markers such as weather forecasts exceeding strong wind warnings. These could be developed through consultation with the relevant authorities and user groups.

        > Mallacoota has inadequate ocean rescue services to cater for a potential increase in marine incidents.

        > Analysis of the Multi Criteria Analysis (MCA) shows small changes in assumptions could change the relative scores of the options easily. Ironically, if the jetty had been left on the east side of the ramp, immediately adjacent to the rocks the danger of fishermen being washed off would immediately be eliminated and the Alternative Concept would have a total MCA rating of 2.74, finishing above Option 3b (2.45) and Alternate H2 (2.52) under the MCA ratings (see Table 1).

          Visual Amenity

          It is very concerning that Hyder applied inconsequential weightings to environmental issues regarded as extremely important by the Inquiry Panel. For example, Visual Amenity was given a total overall weighting of only 3%.

          The Inquiry Panel found in relation to this area: ‘The Panel considers that the impact of the breakwaters in the new proposals will have considerable impact on the wilderness and landscape values of Bastion Point and an overall net detriment to tourism.’ Besides the breakwater, the intrusion of a 58 metre long jetty into the middle of the bay does not seem to have been considered.

          > The report fails to weight visual amenity adequately – it counts for just 3% of the overall score. A breakwater that the Inquiry Panel found would be extremely damaging to amenity and tourism, has little effect on the analysis. The visual intrusion of a 58 metre long jetty into the middle of the bay does not seem to have been considered.

          > Under Hyder’s analysis, an extremely visually intrusive and visually damaging proposal would be scored out of a 100% just 2.4% lower overall than a development that had little or no impact. Hyder’s MCA is made with only the smaller Alternate H2 rated.

          > A 3% scoring to visual amenity for coastal development flies in the face of environmental impact studies and the recognition of the significant coastal landscape values attributed to Bastion Point. This would pave the way for any coastal development regardless of its intrusion into the landscape and ignores any protection afforded under the Victorian Coastal Strategy.

          > Extensive landscape design is required to make any breakwater much less intrusive.

          > There is no justification for at least a third of the breakwater that is shown above the high water mark between the connection point at the ramp and the commencement of the rock platform.

            Capital Costs

            The construction cost of the Alternative Option is listed as $2.4 million. Hyder increased this to $3.2 million by adding the same high costs for project management that are applied to the more expensive $6 million Option 3b. An annual operating cost of $270,000 is anticipated for all options. This must be considered a very high cost for the benefit of a small number of boat launches.

            The construction and annual operating costs far exceed the potential benefit and level of use provided by any ocean access facility.

            Usability

            Hyder accepts that ‘usability’ is defined only by wave height at the ramp toe being less than 20 cm. This definition is derived from the Australian Standard for Marinas, AS3962, of which the Inquiry Panel found: ‘The Panel considers that this Standard does not apply well to ocean boat ramps and provides guidelines only, not specifications.’ Furthermore AS3962 states clearly “This document is intended for use as a guideline and should not be used as a design specification.” Section 1.1, NOTE: 1.

            An effect of applying the marina standard is that the ramp is still classed as usable even if the wave action is reduced to 20 cm height at the ramp by the provision of a breakwater while gale force winds are creating dangerous conditions further off shore. The SBPC Boating Report found that in practice, the seas off Bastion Point are only used on approximately 62% of days when wind speeds are less than 30 km/h.

            Similarly, the SBPC boating survey found very high use of the current ramp (with concurrent boating numbers twice that recommended for the new ramp options). Over the summer period, boats used the current ramp on close to 100% of days on which wind was less than 30 km/h. This emphasises the inconsistent and narrow definition of describing the Alternate Option as having 20% usability.

            If it is assumed that the usability of Alternate H2 and Option 3b is in fact 60-80%, and the usability of the Alternate Option is 40-60%, the option with the highest MCA score becomes the Alternate Option.

            Table 1 shows the effect of small changes in ratings.