A petition has been launched in a bid to save the Loch Sport foreshore from erosion.

Residents, property owners, and visitors to the coastal town are being encouraged to sign the petition, which calls on the state government to “urgently” provide funding to address the issue.

Secretary of the Loch Sport Foreshore Committee, Tony Patchell is optimistic that the petition will garner people’s attention.

“I believe that we can probably get about 5000 signatures,” Mr Patchell said, noting that Loch Sport only has 1000 permanent residents.

“The people that own houses here, the people that holiday here, I’m sure will quite happily sign it.

“I think you’d be pushing to find someone in Loch Sport who’s not concerned about the erosion.”

Member for Gippsland South Danny O’Brien is backing the petition, which he plans on presenting to state parliament.

“A number of research papers and reports have been commissioned by the state government in the past, with the most recent unsurprisingly confirming that immediate action is needed to protect public and private property,” Mr O’Brien said.

“I’ve been writing to the Minister for Environment for more than five years highlighting these concerns yet the Government has continued to dither with small pockets of funds for further reviews and consultations while the erosion continues to progress.”

Loch Sport Foreshore Committee secretary Tony Patchell stands next to a makeshift seawall along the Lake Victoria foreshore. Photo: Tom Parry

The petition comes following a meeting between local stakeholders and the Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning (DELWP) which took place on July 1.

Attendees – including Wellington Shire Councillor Mr Mark McKenzie and Mr O’Brien – were presented with five options to address the issue by a DELWP representative, which were then voted on.

It was unanimously agreed upon by those in attendance that groynes were the preferred option.

Additionally, the State Government announced on July 6 that Loch Sport would partly benefit from a $7.7 million package to repair and maintain coastal assets.

A spokesperson for the government confirmed to the Gippsland Times that $400,000 has been set aside to “undertake immediate works to address public safety risk at Loch Sport and design and implement a preferred adaptation pathway”.

Large portions of Loch Sport’s foreshore have been lost near The Boulevard. Photo: Tom Parry

Mr Patchell believes that the money will not be enough to solve the erosion issue, describing it as a “patch-up job” – “the same as they’ve done for the last 20 years.”

“It’s not real money to do anything substantial except pump a bit of sand in,” Mr Patchell said.

“I don’t think it’s going to make any change at all to the problem.

“As we (Loch Sport residents) have said, as the coastal engineers have said, and as we’ve seen from the groynes that are (currently) there, it’s only groynes that are going to fix it.”

Meanwhile, land along the Lake Victoria foreshore continues to wash away at an alarming rate.

Since last reporting on the issue in March of this year, the Gippsland Times has witnessed more evidence of erosion, with a further metre of land having been lost in some areas along Seagull Drive.

The Seagull Drive boat-ramp in 2016.
Photo: Contributed
The Seagull Drive boat-ramp, as seen earlier this month. Photo: Tom Parry

Further east along The Boulevard, the loss of land is even greater, with the footpath that follows the shoreline – once positioned several metres away from the water – being impacted.

Residents spoken to by the Times noted that changes to the shoreline were sudden, rather than gradual – long-time resident Zara Kent has observed “hunks” of beach that have disappeared on her daily walks along the shoreline.

Furthermore, locals continue to take matters into their own hands, constructing makeshift groynes and seawalls in hope of saving the boat-ramps and beachside footpath from further erosion.

As with the residents of Loch Sport, Danny O’Brien is hoping that the petition will highlight to the State Government that solving the erosion issue is a real priority for the local community.

“I understand that there will no doubt be consequences to whatever action is chosen to stop the erosion (of the) foreshore, but it’s clear that there will also be consequences if we don’t act to stop it,” Mr O’Brien said.

“It’s time to take action to save this wonderful town before it’s too late.”

This section of the Lake Victoria foreshore was taken in 2021. Photo: File
The same section of the foreshore pictured earlier this month. Photo: Tom Parry

Members of the public can sign the petition at various locations around Loch Sport, through Danny O’Brien’s office and website, and through the official website of the Victorian Parliament.

The closing date for signatures is August 14.

Update: Member of the Legislative Council for Eastern Victoria, Harriet Shing has stated that she is happy to meet with Loch Sport residents for a discussion on their concerns.

“I’m looking forward to discussing these issues directly with Loch Sport locals to see what actions can be taken,” Ms Shing said.