Protecting Our Foreshore From Encroachment
Encroachment into foreshore and bushland reserves occurs when private landholders occupy or extend the use of their private land into public reserves. As well as denying public access to public land, these activities may be a risk to safety and biodiversity.
People who neighbour Crown land have been caught clearing native vegetation to establish or expand a lawn, plant non-indigenous plants, create access tracks, build fireplaces and store firewood, shed, playgrounds and equipment.
Bass Coast Shire Council’s Environment Manger, Alison Creighton, said Council had ordered the removal of several sheds, a caravan and a wide range of household items from Crown land this year.
“Over 4,000 plants were planted in the foreshore reserve at Phillip Island this year after illegally placed items were removed from the foreshore reserve,” Ms Creighton said.
Ms Creighton said that to date, there had been a good level of compliance with requests from Council to remove structures and items from bushland and foreshore reserves.
“People know where the boundaries to their property are – they know they are taking something that is not theirs – so they have been quick to retreat back to their own land,” Ms Creighton said.
“They also know that the excuse, ‘it was like that when we bought it’, just doesn’t cut it. There is no adverse possession of Crown land.”
At times, after structures are removed, the land may require revegetation works to restore biodiversity and improve the habitat for wildlife living in the area.
Foreshore encroachment is illegal and Council will continue to prevent people from using public land as their own, including gathering evidence to support fines and prosecutions.
“Council takes a structured approach to responding to information about foreshore and bushland encroachment,” Ms Creighton said.
“For example, items or structures that pose a risk to public safety in general will take precedence over a lawn extension.”
This summer, Council’s Environment Team will be focusing on high risk sites such as fire pits and dangerous structures to reduce the risk of injury to others. If you know of any areas that have items that are a public safety risk or have fire pits, please contact Diana Whittington on 1300 BCOAST (226 278).