The Winchelsea Common will reopen to the public, following extensive works by the Surf Coast Shire Council and Victorian Government’s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) to restore and enhance the site.
The Council and DELWP have outlined a plan to reopen the rehabilitated site by the end of March after the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) determined the Winchelsea Common is now safe for public access.
This follows Surf Coast Shire Council supporting DELWP to carry out a major clean-up of residual lead and clay target contamination from former gun club activities at the site.
As part of the works, the site was further enhanced through the construction of a new all-weather shared path, landscaping and fencing off of sensitive vegetation.
Areas which could not be rehabilitated due to the presence of nationally significant vegetation will remain fenced off from the public.
The Council and DELWP have joint responsibility for the Common with Council responsible for the day-to-day management of the site, and DELWP, as the land owner, being ultimately responsible for how the Common is managed.
An Environment Management Plan has been jointly developed to outline how the site will be managed to protect public health and safety, and the unique natural environment.
Surf Coast Shire Acting Mayor Cr Liz Pattison said she was pleased that locals would soon be able to use the space again.
“Winchelsea Common is a much-loved open space, with significant environmental values. I know locals will be so happy that they will soon be able to again enjoy its walking trails and off-lead dog area.”
“The new Environmental Management Plan will help ensure that DELWP and Council can safely manage the residual contamination on site, while also facilitating public access and protecting the area’s environmental values,” Cr Pattison said.
DELWP Barwon South West Acting Regional Director Chris McNamara said it was great news for the community.
“We’re delighted that the Winchelsea Common will once again be open to the public and can be enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. We’ve greatly appreciated the patience and understanding of the community, while these important works have been delivered to enhance and restore this site.”