Protecting Our Foreshore From Encroachment
Bass Coast Shire Council is continuing a program to address encroachment into foreshore and bushland reserves.
Encroachment 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.
In 2011, Council adopted the Encroachment into Foreshore and Bushland Reserves: A Procedure for Action (2011), which sets out an ongoing works program to addressing ‘encroachment’ issues within Bass Coast Shire.
Property owners 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.
Mayor, Cr Neil Rankine, said the encroachment program has resulted in the removal of several sheds, a caravan and a wide range of household items from Crown Land in previous years.
“This years’ focus was on lawn extensions, seating and garden escaped weeds that spanned across the boundary of properties,” Cr Rankine said.
“Over 1,500 plants were planted in the foreshore reserve at Phillip Island this year after three adjoining property areas underwent works to remove private seating and garden weeds that had encroached into the foreshore reserve.”
Cr Rankine 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,” Cr Rankine 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.”
Foreshore encroachment is illegal and Council will continue to stop people from using public land as their own, including gathering evidence to support fines and prosecutions if necessary.
“Council takes a structured approach to responding to information about foreshore and bushland encroachment,” Cr Rankine said said.
“For example, items or structures that pose a risk to public safety in general will take priority.”
This summer, Council’s Environment Team will be focussing on documenting medium and high risk sites, such as 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, please contact David Martin on 1300 BCOAST (226 278) or (03) 5671 2211.