Minister rejects elevated pathway at Bells Beach
THE contentious elevated pathway proposed for Bells Beach is no more, after the state government refused to give the green light to a management plan for the reserve if it included the pathway.
Community group Greater Torquay Alliance (GT Alliance) hailed the outcome, describing it as “a very astute decision”.
The controversial plans for a 60-metre long timber pathway were added to the Surf Coast Shire council’s Bells Beach Surfing Recreation Reserve Coastal and Marine Management Plan 2015-25 in 2019.
After strong backlash from parts of the community, the council decided they would install a temporary elevated pathway for the 2020 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach and reassess whether to build a permanent structure afterwards. But the council’s plans were delayed when the World Surf League (WSL) announced the cancellation of the 2020 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach due to COVID-19.
Yesterday (Wednesday, May 5), Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio announced she had approved the Bells Beach Surfing Recreation Reserve Coastal and Marine Management Plan, and agreed with an advisory committee that there was no pressing or overwhelming need for a permanent elevated platform.
In a statement, the state government said the committee found event organisers “were neutral about whether a permanent or temporary structure was needed”.
The WSL dropped their support for the pathway in September 2020.
“I have approved the Bells Beach Surfing Recreation Reserve Coastal and Marine Management Plan, subject to the removal of the proposed elevated walkway and viewing platform,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.
In a post on their Facebook page last night, GT Alliance stated Ms D’Ambrosio’s ruling was “big news” as the “Surf Coast Shire council has invested such a lot of money on this (two public consultant processes, multiple consultants and officer time) that it looked like it was going to go ahead regardless”.