Alex de Vos
An illegal harbour at Leopold will stay after an agreement between owner Dennis More and City of Greater Geelong.
Mr More has agreed to plant native vegetation around the harbour and to develop a landscape management plan for the site.
The agreement did not require Mr More to remove the harbour waterways.
But he must block boat access with rocks in a channel to Corio Bay.
Mr More refused to speculate on whether the harbour might eventually regain boat access to the bay.
He was furious about an incorrect report that he had to “fill in” the harbour.
He was also concerned that other incorrect reports suggesting he had used explosives to open the harbour to the bay had left people questioning his “respect for the environment”.
Mr More pointed out that the site was degraded when he took ownership. His harbour work and pending projects under the agreement with the City would rejuvenate the land.
“The property was a wasteland when I purchased it and I subsequently made a number of environmental improvements,” he said.
Mr More said he had planted more than 1200 trees on the land, developed a wetland and removed noxious weeds and vermin.
“It has always been my intention to improve the land, not destroy it,” Mr More said.
Two years ago he began to excavate the 45hectare site on his Portarlington Road property without a planning permit.
He was ordered to stop, leading to a battle with the City over his unauthorised project.
The long-running legal battle ended with the agreement between the City and Mr More a day before they were scheduled to appear at Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal.
Mr More said the agreement represented “closure” on a “difficult and stressful period”.
The agreement requires Mr More to submit a plan to the City showing how the works will:
• restore indigenous flora and fauna;
• create and maintain self-sustaining freshwater and estuarine ecosystems; and
• maintain the tidal exchange between Corio Bay and harbour area.
Council planning portfolio holder councillor Rod Macdonald said the agreement was “amicable”.
Cr Macdonald confirmed the agreement would retain the harbour waterways.
“I think it has been worked through very well and all parties have reached a resolution,” he said.
“We’re now working toward getting the final details of the plan together.”
Alex de Vos