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The case of Portsea’s disappearing beach

Portsea Beach covered in giant sand bags in a futile attempt to halt erosion. Photo: Chris Smyth

Portsea Beach covered in giant sand bags in a futile attempt to halt erosion. Photo: Chris Smyth

 

Published 7 January 2016

The Portsea Beach has vanished, a victim of the Port Phillip Bay Channel Deepening Project.

The Victorian Government and the Port of Melbourne Authority might choose to disagree with that assessment but studies by scientists and the observations of local experts lay the blame squarely at the project.

After the Port Phillip Heads was dredged in 2008 to deepen the shipping channel, tidal currents increased, wave patterns changed and the Portsea Beach began its disappearing act.

 

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Years and millions of dollars later the beach is covered in giant sand bags in a futile attempt to halt the erosion - according to the CSIRO the sand bag wall is part of the problem.
New solutions being proposed include groynes and artificial reefs, but each of these will create their own environmental issues.

It is time the government and the Port of Melbourne Authority came clean on the issue, admitted the cause of the vanishing Portsea Beach and established an inclusive, transparent and scientifically robust consultation process to explore future options for the beach.

At the time of the channel deepening project the Port of Melbourne Authority was required to establish a $100 million bond to cover any environmental damage. This has since been refunded but should now be reactivated.