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Where is the decision making process up to?

Minister for Environment Ryan Smith gives Coastal Management Act approval – 23 Jan 2013

After a 28 day decision period Minister Ryan Smith gives approval to construct under the Coastal Management Act, with so-called ‘stringent conditions’.

East Gippsland Shire Council vote – at 4 Sep 2012

Council votes to submit Option 3b for approval to construct under Coastal Management Act

East Gippsland Shire Council received a letter dated 3 August 2012 from Denis Naphine , Minister for Ports, informing it that: 

  1. The Government respects that Council is the proponent for the project, and it is therefore the Council’s decision as to which option it submits for Coastal Management Act consent.
  2. If Council wishes to proceed with option 3b it needs to complete the necessary paperwork and formally seek approval from the Minister for Environment for Coastal Management Act consent.
  3. In the event such an application is unsuccessful, or if Council withdraws its application for option 3b, the Government is prepared to consider an alternative proposal.
  4. $6.2 million is available for the project. However this cannot be available indefinitely. Therefore Council must advise Government by end of 2012 of its intentions to proceed with the project.

East Gippsland Shire Council votes unanimously on changed motion at 3 April 2012 meeting

In a last minute change, Council voted unanimously:

  1. Notes the Victorian Government’s commitment to undertake a review (the review) and subsequent construction of an upgraded Mallacoota Ocean Access Boat Ramp and the associated Department of Transport proposal to provide an upgraded two lane boat ramp with protective breakwater, known as Alternative H2 (Refer Appendix 1), generally at the location of the existing boat ramp; and
  2. Seeks an urgent determination on the review from the State Government and detailed advice on its preferred option, including: cultural heritage, detailed design including costings and visual impact, environmental impact, car parking, further sand management studies etc.to enable prompt implementation of the project.
  3. Requests State Government works with the Mallacoota Ocean Access Boat Ramp Community Advisory Committee to finalise the design of the State Government’s preferred option and seek broad community support for that option.

East Gippsland Shire Council vote on whether to proceed with Option 3b – 3 April 2012

A Council meeting that was to consider the submissions made to Department of Transport was deferred from 13 March to 3 April 2012.

Department of Transport presents results of lower impact options and Option 3b – February 2012

The Department conducts two information sessions and holds a 17 day submission period on the results of the comparison undertaken by Hyder. A hybrid option consisting of a large breakwater, Alternate H2, is recommended for the current ramp site.  Public submissions were originally to be considered by East Gippsland Shire Council on 13 March 2012 – two days after close of submissions.

Victorian Government undertakes design of alternative design – March 2011

In March 2011, the Government undertook to develop an alternative design along the lines of the SBPC alternative concept . It then intends to compare this alternative design with the breakwater development Option 3b proposed by the East Gippsland Shire Council, before  a final decision is made.

Review commitment from Victorian state election  of 27 November 2011

The November 2010 Victorian state election saw the the defeat of breakwater backer Craig Ingram in the state’s largest swing. The National’s Tim Bull was elected on a commitment to review the project.

Minister for Ports and Transport announces funding 27 October 2010

Despite not having approval for the project under the Coastal Management Act, Minister Tim Pallas announces $6.2 million funding for the project once approval received under Coastal Management Act and from Aboriginal Affairs Victoria.

EG Shire Council votes to proceed 9 August 2010

At a meeting attended by around 60 opponents of the development, Council voted 5-3 to proceed with seeking approval for the project under the Coastal Management Act. Council executive had recommended proceding, based in part on receipt of a report from Buchan Consulting on the economic aspects of the project.

Supreme Court Court Judgement on 27 May 2010

The judgement of Friends of Mallacoota vs Minister for Planning and Anor was handed down on 27 May 2010 by Justice Osborn at the Supreme Court of Victoria.

Whilst the outcome was not in our favour,  the Justice found that there was no evidence that the Panel’s assessment was other than a careful, fair and balanced evaluation. The court case examined the administrative process, not the merits of the case, and found that Justin Madden acted within the legal bounds of his responsibility to provide an assessment of the proposal.

The final approval responsibility rests with Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Gavin Jennings.  Prior to this East Gippsland Council must vote on the design and economic studies of more detailed plans before submission to Minister Jennings.

Supreme Court Court Hearing on 10 May 2010

The Supreme Court case was delayed from its original set date due to availability of legal counsel, but was heard on 10 May 2010 on just one day in front of Justice Osborn. During the court proceedings Justice Osborn said that ‘the panel’s reasons for its factual conclusions are far more replete…than the Minister’s reasons.’

Madden Decision Taken to Supreme Court – Hearing set 16 March 2010

Friends of Mallacoota, a member group of Save Bastion Point Campaign, on 4 August 2009 filed proceedings in the Supreme Court seeking judicial review of Minister Madden’s June 2009 decision to ignore the advice of his own Independent Inquiry, and allow the breakwater development to proceed.

EG Council Votes to Proceed with Development – 7 July 2009

Council voted at its 7 July 2009 meeting to progress the design of the Option 3b breakwater, with the formation of a ‘community advisory committee’ to advise on design, and calling for futher safety and economic analysis (subject to funding) and prior to a further decision by Council. Application for consent to proceed with construction has yet to be lodged with Minister Jennings.

Public Release of Panel Report, and Minister Madden Assessment – 11 June 2009

Despite the Panel report recommending against all the East Gippsland Shire Council options, Minister Madden gives the go ahead to EGSC proceeding with a design phase, prior to approval from Minister Jennings under the Coastal Management Act.

Panel Report completed October 2008

The Panel presented its finalised report to Minister Madden in October 2008, but not made public.

The Inquiry – July 2008

The Inquiry was held over a marathon 3 weeks; 14 -18 July in Mallacoota , 22 -25 July, 28-30 July and 4 and 5 August in Melbourne. We can be proud of the community effort – both at Mallacoota and Melbourne.

Read the Save Bastion Point Campaign’s opening address and the closing submissions.

Council Does Late Backflip on Road Options – 19 June 2008

Less than one month before the Inquiry Hearing, the Council’s solicitors inform the panel on 19 June 2008 that Council supports a road along the beach, and not through the headland, as stated in the EES. Read Council’s letter to Panel (via Maddocks). Read our response (via EDO).

Exhibition of Additional Material – June 2008

Two additional reports, the Ancillary Structures Report and the Coastal Engineering Solutions Supplementary Report were placed on public exhibition.

The CES Supplementary Report proposed alternative road access to the proposed breakwater – along the beach. The Ancillary Structures Report discusses fish cleaning and boat washing facilities, lighting and toilet facilities. Read these reports and our comments on additional reports .

Eighty five submissions were received.

Dates for the Inquiry Hearing Finally set – April 2008

The Inquiry Hearing dates were announced for 14 -18 July in Mallacoota , 22 -25 July, 28-30 July and 4-7 August in Melbourne.

Council Announces it Doesn’t Favour Beach Access – May 2008

EGSC advised the Panel on 13 May 2008 that it did not accept the over-beach options (known as options 3a and 3b).

Directions Hearing – 31 March 2008

The Council decided to proceed as proponent for the project.

The DSE submission of 5th September 2007 was not withdrawn, as initially requested by Council. DSE did, however, narrow the scope of what it would comment on at the Hearing.

Directions Hearing – February 2008

Another Directions Hearing was held at Planning Panels Victoria. The proponent, the East Gippsland Shire Council (EGSC) had still not resolved whether they wished to continue with the Inquiry – again claiming in a media release that they were a ‘reluctant proponent’.

The Panel directed the EGSC to provide written questions of clarification for DSE and for DSE to provide written responses to these items. For further information on what occured at that Directions Hearing read more Bastion Point Directions from 20/02/08

A further Directions Hearing was scheduled to be held at Planning Panels Victoria on 31st March 2008.

January 2008

The Inquiry Panel advised that another Directions Hearing was to be held on 20 Feb 2008, to ascertain the status of discussions between Council and DSE, and to consider the timing and process of the EES Inquiry from here onwards.

December 17 2007

Environment Defenders Office (EDO), on behalf of the Save Bastion Point Campaign, requests the Inquiry to list another Directions Hearing in February.

Council Cancels Second Directions Meeting Called for 11 October 2007

The Panel called a second directions hearing for 11 October to hear all arguments about the proposed adjournment.

The Council, using a legal team of solicitors and barristers, continued to insist to the Panel that an adjournment was necessary as it was not yet prepared to go to Inquiry and that it may consider withdrawing as proponent of the development. It further insisted that it needed time to discuss with DSE its submission.

On Friday 5th October the Panel agreed to cancel the second directions hearing and adjourn the mid November Inquiry. No new dates were set. The panel is advised by EGSC that it is a reluctant proponent for the EES, and DSE commissioned Coastal Engineering Solutions to provide further access options that would reduce vegetation loss. This report became known as the CES Supplementary Report, and proposed a beach access road.

On the 6th of December, in response to a letter from the Panel, the EGSC informed them that it is still not ready to proceed with the Inquiry.

Directions Hearing – 12 September 2007

The Panel convened a Directions Hearing on 12 September 2007 in Mallacoota. The Panel defined the procedures on how it would conduct an Inquiry in November. Major parties to the Inquiry were asked to present the list of expert witnesses they intended calling to give evidence on behalf of case arguments. The Save Bastion Point Campaign presented a list of 16 expert witnesses which it had been organising for a year. The Council was ill prepared at the hearing and had no expert witness list to present to the Inquiry.

Following the September 2007 Directions Hearing, the Panel prepared Directions and a Timetable for the Inquiry to commence on 15 November 2007 in Mallacoota for five days and to be reconvened in Melbourne from 23 November to 10 December.

The Save Bastion Point Campaign proceeded to make final arrangements to prepare its expert witnesses, its oral submissions and have legal representation at the Inquiry.

Instead of preparing for the Inquiry, the East Gippsland Shire Council began a process of requesting that the Panel adjourn the Inquiry. Its rationale was that it needed more time to prepare expert witnesses in light of the SBPC having organised 16, and that it needed time to review matters raised in a submission by DSE. The DSE submission was highly critical of the Council’s proposed development and its final EES documentation.

The SBPC opposed this request in the belief that the Inquiry was finally an avenue for the proposed development to come under public and agency scrutiny and be reviewed by an independent Panel.

Appointment of Panel – September 2007

The Minister for Planning appointed a 3 person independent Panel to review submissions and convene a public Inquiry into the proposed development. Their role was to consider the EES and all material presented by the public and agencies and make a recommendation on the development to the Minister for Planning.

Written submissions by public, groups and agencies – July 2007

482 individuals, groups and key agencies made written submissions to Planning Panels Victoria about the proposed development as described in the EES.

87% of submissions were opposed to the proposed breakwater/ boat ramp development.

Public exhibition of EES – June 2007

In early 2007, the Minister for Planning approved the EES as sufficiently suitable to be exhibited for public review, after having been available in draft form from November 2005.

The final EES was made available between 4th June and 16th July 2007 for comment from the public and agencies.

The EES and supporting documents can be downloaded from the EGSC website. You can order a free hard copy of the EES Summary Brochure and a free CD Rom of the full EES from: Michelle Van Aarde, East Gippsland Shire, PO Box 1618, Bairnsdale 3875. Ph 0351539500. Fax 0351539576. Email: feedback@egipps.vic.gov.au.

Printed copies of the EES Main Report, Appendices & Supplementary Reports are also available at costs of $25, $25 & $50 respectively. These documents could also be viewed at selected locations in Mallacoota, Bairnsdale, Traralgon and Melbourne.

EES Studies -2005

The Council commissioned a number of studies to prepare the EES, including those for coastal processes, Aboriginal and non Aboriginal cultural heritage, safety and risk, recreation amenity, visual and landscape values, economic and infrastructure impacts, and ecology.

Once the studies were complete, the East Gippsland Shire Councillors voted on their preferred option for the location, scope and scale of the proposed boat ramp. In August 2005, The Councillors voted to proceed with preparing the EES for public exhibition.

In November 2005, the EGSC presented its draft EES and associated documentation to a DSE convened Technical Reference Group (TRG) for approval to place the proposal on public exhibition. The TRG rejected the draft EES on the grounds that various studies were incomplete, that the document did not meet the Assessment Guidelines and that the document was not of a sufficient standard for public exhibition. The Council was required to carry out further work on the EES and re-submitted it in August and again in November 2006. On each occasion the TRG rejected the Draft EES.

Assessment Guidelines – December 2004

The Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) finalises Assessment Guidelines to guide the process of preparing the EES.

EES Initiation – 17 August 2000

In August 2000, the Victorian Minister for Planning required the East Gippsland Shire Council to prepare an Environment Effects Statement (EES) on its proposed development as part of an Environment Impact Assessment process under the Environment Effects Act.