Wisemans Beach access abandoned

A PLAN to build a public access road to Wisemans Beach has been abandoned after the Tumby Bay District Council determined there was little chance of the project proceeding to construction.

The construction of a public access road to Wisemans Beach was first budgeted in 2014/15 after David Backen purchased the land with the existing road and shacks and closed public vehicle access in 2013. 

As part of seeking development approval for the road the council undertook a study of beach ecology, which identified a number of environmental risks including the presence of rare and vulnerable shorebirds, vehicle, human and domesticated animal threats, and dune deflation by vehicle traffic.

Tumby Bay District Council’s works manager Damian Windsor said the beach ecology study, which focused on shore birds, showed the beach to be a habitat for rare and vulnerable species including the white breasted sea eagle, eastern osprey and hooded plover.

The council allocated $58,500 for the project in its 2016/17 budget; $4200 was recently spent on ecological survey works bringing the total project cost to date to $9000.

Mr Windsor said there would be significant costs to continue with the project, which could include detailed reporting and application to the federal Department of Environment under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act as well as indigenous heritage surveys. 

He said it was unlikely approvals to construct access would be granted without significant additional expenditure.

“Even after completing the requested investigations, the likelihood of obtaining an approval is considered to be low,” he said. 

Tumby Bay mayor Sam Telfer said coastal access was an issue he would continue to fight for as he believed the community could not afford to continue to lose access to these beaches. 

“It was frustrating when so much effort had been invested into a project from a proactive council and community only to be thwarted by more value being put on environmental concerns rather than social and economic advantages,” he said.