Environment Minister Lisa Neville has intervened to halt Queenscliffe Council deliberations of the project after being informed by her department it had not been granted Coastal Management Consent.
The applicant, Queenscliff Harbour Pty Ltd (QHPL), has been told it must first undertake extensive community consultation and provide a detailed environmental assessment of the proposal and a three-year stingray feeding license issued to QHPL by Fisheries Victoria will remain inactive until Coastal Management consent is given, Ms Neville said.
“There’s a massive gap here and Council shouldn’t have been considering this and the fisheries license is in a sense irrelevant. We’ve sent them (QHPL) back to the drawing board if you like, to go back to the community.
“We have told them we are not issuing Coastal Management Consent unless and until there is significant community consultation and engagement and I want to see some way forward that people can feel confident about as in, is there a compromise or is there a different proposal.
“The key priority is we have to fix this wharf. If they want the stingrays as part of it they need to go through a proper process and it may or may not get through the process of coastal management,” Ms Neville said.
Harbour Manager Sean Blackwood said community consultations would commence this month (February).
“Queenscliff Harbour is committed to listening to the community and will stage a consultation process that will allow a number of opportunities for the community to provide comment about the project.
“The Fishermans Wharf rejuvenation project will be an exciting development for Queenscliff. It will see the redevelopment of the unsafe and dilapidated wharf and involve the transformation of the tired old slipway into a modern eco-tourism facility,” he said.
“The consultation will involve experts on a range of topics including planning, cultural heritage, traffic management, coastal management and animal welfare.”
The previous state government committed $1.8m for the project, which includes repairing Fisherman’s Wharf, filling in the Cayzer slipway and building a stingray feeding auditorium and outdoor cinema.
MEANWHILE upwards of 1500 people have opposed the development via two separate petitions. More than 1,000 have signed a petition circulated in local outlets over summer. A further 455 people have voiced their opposition via the website Change.org.