Council targets beach areas for clean-up

ROAD reserves and vacant blocks along the 90 Mile Beach that are being used as dumping grounds for abandoned goods or house illegal structures and caravans, will be the target of a major clean-up of some of Wellington Shire’s coastal towns.

Fed up with the eyesore of abandoned goods and rubbish, Wellington Shire Council is seeking contractors to remove and dispose of everything from mattresses, tyres, building materials, furniture, household waste and even vehicles from 54 council and privately-owned sites in the ‘between settlement area’ between Golden Beach and Glomar Beach.

Several caravans have also been earmarked for removal, as it is prohibited to use caravans on private land for longer than 28 days without a permit because of lack of sewerage infrastructure, rubbish disposal and inadequate living conditions.

Most of the rubbish and illegal structures targeted in the latest clean-up are on vacant land that is now council owned, and road reserves, in the sparsely-populated beachside towns. 

The council-ordered clean-up, which is in line with the council’s open space strategy and its vision for the liveability of communities, is expected to be a significant cost to councils and ratepayers, with illegal dumping costing Wellington Shire ratepayers tens of thousands of dollars each year.

In cases where rubbish is removed from privately-owned land, the council may be able to recover some of the costs.

The Municipal Association of Victoria has previously sought a commitment from the state government to exempt councils from the landfill levy on the disposal of illegally dumped rubbish.

And in a submission to an EPA enquiry in 2015, Wellington Shire Council called on the Environmental Protection Authority to expand its role to deal with illegal dumping, or alternatively, support the call for increased funding for local governments to continue this role.

The submission stated that illegal dumping was a significant problem for regional and rural councils, and that catching and prosecuting illegal dumpers was “far more difficult and costly in large rural municipalities than smaller urban councils” where dumping was concentrated in fewer areas. 

The shire has recently investigated selling off some of its blocks along the 90 Mile Beach, many of which were bought from private landholders who were prevented from building because of planning controls.

Wellington Shire Council was contacted for comment, but declined to respond.