The Pillars, Mount Martha

The foreshore area including The Pillars is coastal Crown land owned by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), with Mornington Peninsula Shire having basic maintenance responsibilities as the delegated Committee of Management.

The Pillars also has significant cultural heritage and natural environment value. Protecting and enhancing these values is vital and a legislative requirement.

Due to increases in visitation to the site over the past 12 months and the lack of formalised access points, the site is experiencing high levels of erosionand creating public safety risks for people accessing the site. There have been serious incidents at the site that have required attendance by emergency services. The Pillars is not a formalised location for visitors. It is in a relatively secluded location and the area does not have infrastructure (such as toilets, rubbish bins, parking, footpaths, road crossing facilities for the Esplanade etc.) to support high visitation.

The increased visitation to the Pillars has contributed to a number of issues in the area including:

  • Environmental and cultural heritage impacts of foot traffic accessing the Pillars including erosion;
  • Safety risks associated with accessing the Pillars (pedestrian movements on and across public roads, steep and uneven cliff edges etc.);
  • Risk of injury associated with jumping from the Pillars;
  • Illegal and unsafe parking in the vicinity of the Pillars;
  • Traffic and congestion on local streets;
  • Litter in the vicinity of the Pillars including the nearby streets;
  • Anti-social and offensive behaviour by some visitors to the Pillars including in nearby streets;
  • Increased fire risk associated with trampled vegetation and undergrowth; and
  • Emergency services access to local streets due to parked cars.

The foreshore area including The Pillars is Crown land managed by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), with Mornington Peninsula Shire having basic maintenance responsibilities as the delegated Committee of Management. 

February 2017: Shire starts work on Implementation Plan

The Shire is developing an Implementation Plan to execute the Council decision of January 24 2017.  A Communication and Media Plan is to be prepared and executed in conjunction with the Implementation Plan.

January 2017: Council moves to protect The Pillars

A Special Council Meeting was held on Tuesday 24 January 2017 to consider the issues and the future of the site. 

The Council decision was:

  • That Option 3 (Close site via construction of a fence, with the addition of an Authorised Officer to promote awareness and educate any visitors on the need to close the Pillars for safety/environmental/cultural heritage reasons) be implemented.
  • That an Implementation Plan is prepared and executed in line with Option 3. That a Communication and Media Plan be prepared and executed in conjunction with the Implementation Plan. 
  • Part B - That the Shire writes to Aboriginal Affairs Victoria seeking their direction to reinforce and protect the cultural heritage values in accordance with the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act. 
  • Part C - That the Shire writes to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, and the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, to seek their direction and advice on putting in place legal processes to prohibit public access to the Pillars. 
  • Part D - In the event that the Shire fails to gain support for the resolution of Council, that the Shire commences the process of handing back the Committee of Management responsibility to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning for the Pillars section of the Mount Martha Foreshore between Ellerina Road and Bay Road as detailed in Option 4 of the report. 
  • Part E - That fencing in Option 3 be installed as a temporary fence with outcomes reviewed through a report to Council after a trial period of two years.
  • Implementation plan has been prepared and is currently being delivered.
  • Letters have been sent to Department of Environment, Land Water and Planning, the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, and the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs
  • Shire officers working with Vic Roads on fencing and required offset from road.

The full report can be found in our Council Minutes.

Measures introduced to reduce impact 

Mornington Peninsula Shire introduced a number of measures to reduce the impact of visitation to The Pillars on the site and surrounding area.

Measures include:

  • Installation of ‘High Pedestrian Activity Nov-Apr’ warning signage on The Esplanade in the vicinity of The Pillars
  • Cliff warning signage at The Pillars
  • A six month trial ban on the consumption of alcohol in the vicinity of The Pillars
  • ‘No Stopping, Nov-Apr’ parking restrictions were implemented on one side of the residential streets where demand for parking for The Pillars is in highest demand
  • Bollards installed in strategic locations along The Esplanade to physically prevent parking and allow a space for pedestrians to walk
  • VicRoads trimmed roadside vegetation along The Esplanade to create more space for pedestrians to walk along the road shoulder
  • Regular patrols by Shire Rangers and Victoria Police
  • Weekly litter collection in local streets (Deakin Drive and Marguerita Avenue)
  • Obtained a $30,000 DELWP Public Access and Risk grant for the Pillars, and for the immediate risk management works and the preparation of a long term management plan for the area.
  • Portable electronic warning signs on the Esplanade to reinforce the ‘High Pedestrian Activity Nov-Apr’ signage     

 

Coastal Management Plan

While there is a Coastal Management Plan (CMP) for the Mount Martha foreshore (2008) it does not contain specific recommendations for The Pillars area.

A new CMP is currently being developed and it is also proposed to prepare a management plan specifically for The Pillars (funded through the state government’s Coastal Environments Program). 

The Pillars Long Term Management Plan

It is anticipated that the Pillars Management Plan will provide careful consideration of all key issues and create direction on how to best manage the Pillars into the future.

The Pillars Implementation Plan

The Shire is developing an Implementation Plan to implement the Council decision of January 24 2017.  A Communication and Media Plan is to be prepared and executed in conjunction with the Implementation Plan.