Skip to main content
COVID-19 Support
Support information and resources during the current Pandemic
COVID-19 Support

Encroachment into Foreshore & Bushland Reserves

The foreshore of the Bass Coast region is designated as Crown Land reserves. Exclusive use of public land for a private activity, is considered Encroachment and is illegal under the Crown Land reserves Act 1978. Encroachment activities have a detrimental impact on the environment and poses a risk to public safety. For this reason we are working with landholders to address cases of Encroachment, to ensure the coastal foreshore reserves are protected for future generations.

We are responsible for the management of Crown land and are required to address cases of encroachment into foreshore or bushland reserves. Encroachment occurs when a landholder undertakes activities in the adjoining Crown Land reserve, which has a detrimental impact on the environment or poses a risk to public safety.

The community has expressed concern, that Crown Land is being reserved by private landholders for their purposes. In response, we have developed strategic policies and procedures to deal with cases of encroachment.

This includes the administration of the Encroachment program, which involves consultation with residents, to identify and remove unauthorised items found in Crown Land reserves. The program also focuses on rehabilitation of areas that have been cleared, which are revegetated to improve the extent of coastal vegetation.

To learn more about encroachment and how we are tackling this issue, click on the links below;

For all other encroachment inquiries contact Hayley Woodward, Foreshore & Bushland Reserve Encroachment Officer on 1300 BCOAST (226 278) or email hayley.woodward@basscoast.vic.gov.au

What type of activities would be considered encroachment

Any of the following activities that takes place in Crown Land is considered Encroachment. Often individuals do not feel as though there activities make a significant impact. However, every activity contributes to the combined impact on the reserve. To see examples of each type of encroachment and how these activities impact on the health of foreshore reserves, open the attached documents below.

Storing or placing personal items

Conducting unauthorised plantings without consent

Extending lawn areas

Creating informal access tracks

Building unauthorised structures

Why are we addressing encroachment into Crown Land?

The foreshore and bushland Crown Land reserves provide environmental, social, cultural, and economic benefits to all Victorians. Foreshore reserves are highly visited tourist destinations, therefore it is important to keep these areas clean of waste & materials.

Unauthorised use of public land for a private activity is not supported by any legislation. The Crown Land (Reserves) Act 1978 states that any use or occupation of Crown land must have a lease or license. Exclusive use of public land is one of the major points of objection raised by members of the community.

Other permitted or prohibited activities are determined by Council’s Local Law No.1 Neighbourhood Amenity 2012. If you are unsure what activities are permitted in bushland or foreshore reserves, please refer to Local Laws page.

Where does Encroachment Occur?

Encroachment occurs in the foreshore and bushland reserves that have been designated as public land. Bass Coast Council currently manages over 40 kilometres of public Foreshore Reserve and over 160 hectares of inland bushland reserves. There are also other agencies & groups responsible for managing the coastline of the Bass Coast region. A map of these coastal management zones and responsible land management agencies, can be found at the following link; Bass Coast Shire Council Foreshore Reserve Map of Management Authorities

How do Encroachment Activities impact the state of Crown Land reserves?

The practice of encroachment has several risks and negative impacts to the foreshore reserves which are described below.

Loss of biodiversity: Since non-indigenous/European settlement of the Bass Coast region approximately 90 per cent of indigenous vegetation has been removed. Much of the remaining remnant vegetation is located within public land reserves, such as foreshore and bushland reserves. Many of these areas have been reserved for the protection of natural assets. Many examples of encroachment involve removal of indigenous vegetation, resulting in a loss of habitat for local fauna. There has also been unauthorised garden plantings, that have invaded the foreshore reserve and are now outcompeting local flora.

Loss of protection against coastal erosion: In some coastal areas a healthy strip of remnant coastal vegetation offers a natural and self-maintaining barrier against coastal processes such as wave erosion. This is particularly important given current sea level rise predictions and the expected increase in coastal erosion such as storm surge events.

Fire risk: Certain types of encroachment may contribute an increased fire fuel load, often at locations directly abutting private assets. These include piles of dumped garden waste, the storage of materials such as firewood, or sheds containing flammable liquids. Some forms of encroachment such as permanent barbecues, fire places and burn piles also create potential ignition points in bushland areas.

Risk of public injury: The placement of some items or erection of structures presents a risk of public injury. This includes access tracks that are not constructed according to approved design and construction standards. Examples include “home made” steps featuring protruding star pickets or stair cases that may collapse under the weight of a pedestrian.

Risk of litigation: With reference to the previously mentioned risk of public injury, Council as the appointed land manager may become exposed to financial and time constraints resulting from any personal injury legal proceedings. In some situations adjoining landholders may be at risk of liability if it can be shown that they have been negligent.

Encroachment Program Update

Encroachment Program Update – Response to COVID restrictions

In late 2019 a full-time Foreshore and Bushland Reserves Encroachment Officer was employed to investigate and report on encroachment cases in the Bass Coast region. Initially, an extensive audit of Council-managed coastal and bushland reserves was undertaken.

To date 713 properties and 6 holiday parks have been audited. Encroachment was found at 370 properties that have illegally encroached into Council-managed conservation reserves. This includes landholders or occupiers who have extended their lawns, created access tracks, installed structures and buildings, stored items or planted non-indigenous plant species.

In April 2020 the Victorian government placed restrictions on the movement of people, to reduce the spread of the COVID virus. There are many property owners in Bass Coast Shire, who permanently live in the greater Melbourne region. For this reason, a temporary suspension was placed on all encroachment requests made during this time.

However, the annual revegetation works program continued and six lawns extension sites at Silverleaves and Cowes were selected for revegetation. In July 2020 ‘Work for Victoria’ staff were employed to carry out planting and successfully planted 4000 indigenous plants. To find out more about these revegetation programs, click on the links below.

Since this time the border restrictions have now been lifted and residents are residents are now able to return to their beach properties. Council are now re-activating encroachment requests and would appreciate your cooperation to identify and remove any items found within the Crown Land foreshore reserve