|Description of this FunctionDescription of this Function|
Reservation of coastal public land prior to 1978
Most coastal land was originally reserved for public use according to a set of orders made in the 1870s and 1880s. Reservation was intended to guarantee public access to water by preventing the sale of any further Crown lands adjoining bodies of water.
Coastal margins were originally retained to facilitate water transport and associated land access. In non-port areas they were usually regarded as easements, rights of way or land banks for possible future developments. Crown frontages to Port Phillip Bay were created as early as the late 1830s and from the early 1850s they were identified by surveyors as a matter of course right around the bay. Some of the beaches close to Melbourne were specially reserved as parks, gardens or for recreation in the mid and late 1860s but most were not given firm protection until 1873 when legislative steps were taken to remove a loophole which had allowed coastal land to be converted to freehold under section 42 of the Land Act 1865. In June 1873 all "unappropriated" Crown lands along the shores of Port Phillip Bay were permanently reserved. The remainder of the coastline was reserved over the next decade and on the 23 May 1881 a blanket reservation was made of all unalienated land within one and a half chains of the colony's " Rivers, Rivulets, Creeks, Channels, Aqueducts, Lakes, Reservoirs, Swamps, Inlets, Loughs and Straits".
Coastal public land so reserved has traditionally been occupied on an annual permit or licence basis. These occupations generally fall into one of two categories of permit. Permits for activities associated with recreational use of the frontage and adjoining waters, such as jetties, boatsheds, bathing boxes, boat and swimming club-houses, refreshment booths etc. are issued by the local controlling body, usually the municipal council. The second form of occupation is grazing where there is little or no public usage and no local controlling body. Grazing licences are issued by the central government department responsible for the public lands function.
In addition special legislation has on occasions allowed proprietary rights to coastal lands for certain purposes. For instance, in St. Kilda, an Act in 1965 allowed the municipal council to enter into leases for a specified portion of the shore reserve for a maximum term of 50 years for the provision of a marina and restaurant. In 1967 statutory provision was made for leases for a maximum term of 21 years for surf life-saving associations.
Committees of Management
Coastal public lands, in the same way as many other public lands reserved for public purposes, are directly controlled by Committees of Management which are appointed by the Minister responsible for public lands. In most cases the local municipal council is appointed, in others, local individuals are elected to the committees. These Committees of Management may obtain advice from, and in some matters are subject to statutory control by, the government agencies which deal with fire protection, land conservation, planning etc. Some coastal public lands are controlled directly by port authorities and other statutory bodies.
Co-ordination of coastal land management from 1978
In 1978, under the provisions of the Crown Land (Reserves) Act 1978, (No.9212) the Coastal Management and Co-ordination Committee (CMCC) was established with responsibility for the oversight of management and protection of the coastline of Victoria, except that around Port Phillip Bay and excluding land vested in port authorities or managed under the National Parks Act or Wildlife Act.
In 1983 responsibility for the CMCC was transferred to the Minister for Planning and Environment placing responsibility for planning and co-ordination of management of all coastal lands (except major ports and national parks) within the ambit of one department. Thus all planning, management, works, funding and protection of coastal resources, as well as assistance with the preparation of management plans, in conjunction with other government agencies, committees of management and coastal municipalities, were administered by the newly established Coastal Unit within the Ministry of Planning and Environment (VA 1024). The Minister was responsible for approval of management plans, changes to plans and changes in use and development, and approval of leases, licences and permits.
From 1983 until October 1985, while responsibility for the CMCC lay with the Minister for Planning and Environment, the Department of Conservation, Forests and Lands (VA 1034) continued to undertake some coastal management functions such as central policy and planning co-ordination as well as technical support to the Department's nine coastal regions and works programming for coastal areas. It also undertook the purchase of freehold land for addition to existing coastal reserves; reviews of existing management systems and charges for occupation of coastal Crown land; erosion control works funded by Land Protection Service grants; major stabilisation projects in coastal parks and coastal reserves and representation on the Optional Dress Bathing Committee convened by the Local Government Department.
In October 1985 revised coastal management arrangements were introduced.
The Department of Conservation, Forests and Lands assumed responsibility for managing the coast outside Port Phillip Bay. Although responsibility for the legislation under which the CMCC exercised its powers passed to the Minister for Conservation, Forests and Lands in 1985, staff engaged in coastal management were employed in two agencies. The staff who provided the administrative support for the CMCC were based in the Department of Conservation, Forests and Lands while the Chair of the CMCC came from within the Ministry of Planning and Environment.
The Ministry for Planning and Environment meanwhile retained responsibility for strategic planning for coastal areas. The Coasts, Open Space and Waterways Branch within the Heritage and Environment Division of the Ministry undertook coastal management activities such as: the development of the State Coastal Strategy, the Gippsland Lakes Strategy and the Mordialloc Foreshore Strategy to deal with issues such as the protection of resources, water quality, and development potential (in order to provide guidelines within which management plans were to be prepared for the nine coastal planning districts and to provide a framework for co-ordinating the activities of the various responsible authorities); the development of Building Height Controls along Port Phillip Bay; the development of several coastal management plans intended to ensure a balance between coastal use and conservation and to ensure that conflict between the various activities within coastal areas was minimised. Through representation on the CMCC and its five Regional Coastal Committees, the Ministry implemented its strategies within the coastal land management process and co-ordinated its work with those agencies with direct responsibility for coastal land management such as the Department of Conservation, Forests and Lands and the port authorities - see planning (to 1988).
From 1985 the agencies responsible for public land management had prime responsibility for co-ordinating the management of public coastal zones. The CMCC, which reported to the Minister responsible for public land functions, directly controlled and co-ordinated all works and developments in coastal areas within its jurisdiction through the statutory planning process described above.
The functions of the CMCC included:
carrying out investigations and preparing reports on coastal reserves
preparing management plans in consultation with committees of management or municipalities
exhibiting management plans for public scrutiny after the consent of the Minister in consultation with the Minister for Planning
considering submissions in respect of the exhibited management plans and submitting final management plans to the Minister (for final approval after consultation with the Minister for Planning,)
co-ordinating works to be carried out by public authorities and committees of management on coastal reserves
approving proposed works and improvements to coastal reserves
Coastal Management since 1990
Since 1990, coastal management has remained under the control of government departments concerned with conservation, natural resources and the environment. From 1996, the responsibility for statewide policy advice and the administration of special projects relating to coasts have been situated in the Department of Natural Resources and Environment.
The Coastal Management Act 1995 legislated to provide an effective long-term statutory and institutional framework for the coast to be managed in a sustainable fashion with decisions regarding competing uses being able to be balanced in the interests of all. The whole of the Victorian coast, including Port Phillip Bay was to be included under this legislation. The Coastal Management and Co-ordination Committee was to be replaced with the Victorian Coastal Council comprising up to eleven members. The Council was responsible for:
- undertaking statewide strategic coastal planning
providing advice to the Minister of Environment and Conservation
monitoring the development of coastal action plans
encouraging the cooperation of agencies, local government, the community and others in the planning and management of the coast.
Three coastal regions were defined - Western, Central and Gippsland. Twelve member regional coastal boards were also provided for in the Act with these regional boards to be responsible for:
developing Coastal Action Plans for the region
undertaking and facilitating regional strategic planning for coastal issues
encouraging a cooperative approach amongst regional interest groups in developing and implementing strategic solutions to matters affecting the conservation and use of the regions coast.
Membership of the Coastal Council and the Regional Boards was to be selected on the basis of the skills and experience of members in areas related to conservation, tourism, business, recreation, commerce, issues relating to indigenous peoples, community affairs, town planning, local government and coastal engineering.
Local committees of management were to remain, although the number of bodies responsible was to be rationalised. These local committees were to operate in accordance with the strategic directions of the Council and Boards. Use and development control was to be implemented through the planning permit process managed by local government.