|Description of this FunctionDescription of this Function|
Reservation of coastal public land
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 water bodies.
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 1 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 under one of two categories: those 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. Permits are issued by the local controlling body, usually the municipal council. The second form of occupation is for grazing licenses where there is little or no public usage and no local controlling body. These 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
By the mid 1960s it was realised that popular bayside and coastal beaches required measures for co-ordination of works and developments to ensure correct land use, the prevention of deterioration of the foreshore, the improvement of facilities and the identification and planned preservation of all natural assets. The Port Phillip Authority was established in 1966 to co-ordinate the development of the Port Phillip area and prevent further deterioration of the foreshore. Works and developments in the coastal zones defined as the Port Phillip Area had to be authorised by the Authority. The Port Phillip Coastal Planning and Management Act 1966 was repealed by the Planning and Environment Act 47/1987.
The Port Phillip Area comprises public land including foreshore and inshore waters around Port Phillip Bay and between Cape Schanck and Barwon Heads (this latter area of control until 1980 only). Various bodies with statutory powers have specific responsibilities relating to either the Bay or the foreshore, such as Committees of Management, municipalities or public authorities. The Port Phillip Authority was established in 1966 in order to co-ordinate development as a result of this the multiplicity of control, management and responsibility.
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.
In 1983 responsibility for both the Port Phillip Authority and 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. 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.
It is not clear exactly when the Port Phillip Authority ceased to exist but it would appear that the Coasts, Open Space and Waterways Branch within the Ministry for Planning and Environment undertook its functions after its demise around the early 1980s until the repeal in early 1988 of the Port Phillip Coastal Planning and Management Act 1966 by the Planning and Environment Act 47/1987 s.205.
After the PPA Act was repealed in early 1988 the controls provided for in the Act were incorporated into the State Section of statutory plans and both the Minister for Planning and Environment and the Minister for Conservation, Forests and Lands were made Referral Authorities to consider and approve permits for works and developments in the Port Phillip Area. This statutory referral advice was co-ordinated at the State level through an Ad-hoc Committee established under the auspices of the Coastal Management and Co-ordination Committee. Management changed again with the passing of the Coastal Management Act 1995 and the establishment of the Victorian Coastal Council with its associated regional councils. (See Coastal management)