Feedback on the proposed changes to jetty licences and the introduction of a new foreshore occupation licence has been extended to June, 15 2018.
Goulburn-Murray Water’s (GMW) new foreshore occupational licence has created angst not only in Yarrawonga but in several communities including residents at Nagambie and Lake Eildon.
Licence holders in Yarrawonga have been hit with proposed increases of more than 110% described by local Member for Ovens Valley Tim McCurdy as “outrageous” and a “cash grab” by an authority that holds a monopoly over such licences.
GMW Managing Director Pat Lennon said the authority was listening carefully to community feedback which would help inform the final licence structure and associated fees.
“I wish to thank the many licence holders, stakeholders and community members who have been speaking with us about their foreshore licencing concerns, and to assure them that we are genuinely listening to what they have to say. We’ve had more than 80 individual responses so far.
“We acknowledge our engagement with customers could have been better and that is why I’ve opted to extend the consultation period – so that everyone has a chance to have input,” Mr Lennon said.
“We also acknowledge some of these foreshore structures have been in place for many years and, as a result of consultation, we will give consideration to an alternative fee structure. This may include a phased approach to fees for some customers.”
Mr Lennon said an improved licencing system is needed because structures built on public foreshore land are subject to administration to allow GMW to manage environmental, public liability and operational concerns.
“It is a complex activity to manage hundreds of kilometres of foreshore and the many structures built on or over the water,” he said.
“As administrators it is our interest in ensuring fairness for all property owners and the community in how this is managed.
“GMW is unique in Australia as it is the only water authority that has private residential land abutting some of its storages and that allows licensees to erect structures on the waterfront. In other states, this is generally only evident on coastal lakes and river systems,” Mr Lennon said.
“In addition, previous feedback from customers to GMW said that licences should be available for a wider range of foreshore infrastructure – not just jetties and boat ramps, which is what this work is about. We have taken that feedback on board and offered a broader licence coverage.”
“While many landowners respect and care for the public foreshore amenity unfortunately a minority do not. Damage may be deliberate or it may be caused from lack of knowledge,” Mr Lennon said.
The statutory authority has also been delivered a rebuke by the Victorian Water Minister Lisa Neville’s office over proposed fee hikes to its foreshore licencing including those of jetties and boat ramps.
A spokesperson for Lisa Neville said the minister’s office was keeping a close watch on the issue amid a fierce community backlash.
Previously residents received a single licence fee for just their jetty and /or a boat ramp (slipway) with modest CPI increases from year to year.
On top of the $300 annual fee this year, GMW will now be adding additional charges for a large range of constructions. Residents will also be charged extra if their jetty is larger than the standard size of 6 metres long and 2 meters wide.
What is more interesting charges of $100 will now also apply for landscaping elements including paths and steps, garden beds, paved entertainment areas, shade sails, underground sprinklers, power, building structures and vehicle access.
A further category dubbed ‘‘other’’ will attract a fee to be determined by GMW.
Those residents with boat lifts, fencing, fire pits and non-approved structures will be told to remove them.
The sweeping changes to the licencing and subsequent charges came after a review and inspections made by GMW in 2017.
To provide input fill out the online feedback form at www.gmwater.com.au/existing-foreshore-licences. Alternatively residents can organise to meet with a representative from GMW by calling 1800 013 357.