MEDIA RELEASE 26 August 2016 |

A beautiful stretch of coastal reserve between Port Fairy and Warrnambool could be lost to farming if the local council fails to rezone the tourism drawcard.

The reserve is currently a Farming Zone in the Moyne Shire Council’s planning scheme but the Victorian National Parks Association wants it changed to a Public Conservation and Resource Zone.

“Belfast Coastal Reserve was established more than 30 years ago to protect the area’s wildlife, help stabilise the dunes and allow for low-intensity recreation such as walking, swimming and boating,” Victorian National Parks Association¬†Project Manager Chris Smyth said today.

“It is public land reserved for conservation and community use not private commercial operations.

“If Moyne Shire Council fails to rezone the reserve it could be used for cropping and livestock grazing. This is inconsistent with the Victorian Coastal Strategy, which says the development of sand dunes should be avoided. It would also be inconsistent with the council’s own coastal action plan and environmental sustainability strategy.

“In zoning the Belfast Coastal Reserve for farming, the Moyne Shire Council is sending the wrong message. It is telling the community that the reserve is only good for farming. By rezoning the reserve, the council would show that it now recognises and respects the significance of the reserve’s natural, cultural and social values.

“If farming was allowed across the reserve, its natural, cultural and social values would be lost.”

The Moyne Shire Council has also applied the Farming Zone to the Port Fairy Golf Course and the eastern end of the Belfast Lough. But along other stretches of its coastal boundary public land has been zoned either Public Conservation and Resource Zone or Public Park and Recreation Zone.

The City of Warrnambool also manages a part of the Belfast Coastal Reserve. It has zoned that area as Public Conservation and Resource Zone, as have other Victorian councils with public land along their foreshores.

“There is no good reason for retaining the Farming Zone over the Belfast Coastal Reserve. The Moyne Shire Council should promptly rezone it to Public Conservation and Resource Zone.”