Background to the $5.3m Coastal Walk just announced
Council engaged the consultants, Inspiring Place, Claire Ellis Consulting and Indigeco to prepare a draft Eurobodalla Nature Based Tourism Feasibility Study Summary Report in July 2018. Council endorsed the draft report for public exhibition at the Ordinary Meeting of Council on 22 October 2019. The draft report was publicly exhibited between 29 October and 27 November 2019. In December 2019 Council adopted the draft Eurobodalla Nature Based Tourism Feasibility Study: Summary Report. In December 2019 the report to Council stated: "Several projects identified in the draft report are underway and being advanced by Council or relevant NSW Government agencies. These projects include: Murramarang South Coast Walk, Observation Point Lookout, Coastal Headlands Walking Trail, Mogo Adventure Trails Hub Strategy and the Batemans Bay Waterfront Masterplan." The report identified the Coastal Headlands Walking Trail as a 'midterm leveraging project' saying "Grant funding has been applied for to deliver this project, and is awaiting the result from the relevant funding body. A key component of this project will be to ensure the coastal walking trail will be appealing for visitors and improve the interpretation of the area, encouraging visitors to explore the region and stay for longer periods of time." The draft report signaled multiple small-scale infrastructure upgrades saying "These micro-infrastructure projects will include upgrading the best lookouts and improving access to waterways, casting a tourism lens over important tourist locations and improving the visitor experience." The report and feasibility study made no commitment to fund or undertake any infrastructure works saying "Any proposed infrastructure works will need to be considered as part of future budget processes."
Above: from the Eurobodalla Nature Based Tourism Feasibility Study Summary Report Council adopted the draft Eurobodalla Nature Based Tourism Feasibility Study: Summary Report on December 10th 2019. IT IS IMPORTANT to remember that the report and strategy was a feasibility study and made no commitment to fund or undertake any infrastructure works saying "Any proposed infrastructure works will need to be considered as part of future budget processes." Adopting the Eurobodalla Nature Based Tourism Feasibility Study: Summary Report DID NOT endorse these projects. Each project MUST come back to Council, as is currently the case with the Mogo Adventure Trails Hub proposal, to clearly identify the proposal and to seek community feedback. Hand in hand with any commitment to infrastructure works is also the commitment to maintenance. In this case the feasibility proposal simply suggested a signposted and readily navigable walking trail of 23km with no discussion of ongoing funds to be committed to maintenance. The next we hear of the walking trail is the announcement of $5.3m on November 12th, 2020. To that point the walking trail was only considered a feasible idea - it was NOT endorsed. While the idea may have been put out to the public for submissions from 29 October and 27 November 2019 none were received in regards to the proposed Walking Trail. Where to from here? The $5.3m funding from the Bushfire Economic Recovery (BLER) Fund has now been announced. In December 2019 the councillors adopted the draft Eurobodalla Nature Based Tourism Feasibility Study: Summary Report that also adopted the following actions:
**** Undertake community consultation and assessments (e.g. impacts, risk, operational) to meet planning and development approval requirements. At the time of adopting the Strategy the Councillors were told : Community and Stakeholder Engagement covering the Murramarang South Coast Walk, Observation Point Lookout, Coastal Headlands Walking Trail, Mogo Adventure Trails Hub Strategy and Batemans Bay Waterfront Masterplan The stakeholder engagement process involved: - one-to-one meetings with key event stakeholders to gain their views on the current situation, and their aspirations and priorities related to the development of naturebased tourism in the region - two workshops facilitated with representatives from local operators that attract visitors and residents to gather their collective thoughts on issues and opportunities for naturebased tourism development and growth across Eurobodalla - a workshop facilitated with NSW Government and relevant agency representatives to foster cross-agency support and development of nature based tourism - the draft report was publicly exhibited between 29 October and 27 November 2019. During the exhibition period, Council received one (1) submission relating to the draft Report. Stakeholders engaged included representatives from: Destination NSW Destination Southern NSW Chambers of Commerce NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service NSW Department of Parliament and Cabinet Forestry Corporation of NSW NSW Department of Primary Industries Local Aboriginal Land Councils Local nature-based tour operators and accommodation providers Council staff. BUT NOT the community. Now the community, especially those who live on beachfront and clifftop properties will become aware of Council's intent to direct pedestrians past their windows. Fortunately the Councillors have agreed to Undertake community consultation and assessments (e.g. impacts, risk, operational) to meet planning and development approval requirements, especially in light of the need to clear vegetation to construct the trail and design the paths to be accessible. Also forming the feasibility study Initiating Actions is: Review the budget and prioritise to ensure selected sites and visitor facilities will deliver expectations for quality nature-based tourism experiences THAT budget MUST include consideration of an ongoing commitment to maintain vegetation, pavement, signage and any other built infrastructure It has also been noted that the Feasibility report, adopted in December 2019, recommends for the Mogo Adventure trails project that it should take 1-2 years to undertake “feasibility studies” (so is this a feasibility study of a feasibility study?), and 3/5 years for implementation (see page 32 Eurobodalla Nature Based Tourism Feasibility Study Summary Report extract below), yet this project was announced prior to public consultation even closing in October 2020.
Note that while the Member for Bega has announced $3.2 million funding for the Mogo project the project itself HAS NOT been endorsed by Council. In fact a report with public submissions HAS NOT been returned to Council for their consideration.