Parks Victoria Pest Fence Failure

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Hog deer hind and stag feeding in a clearing.

The Victorian Government has withdrawn its tender for contractors to install and design one of Australia’s most expensive predator-proof fences across the Yanakie isthmus leading into Wilsons Promontory.

The tender had extreme requirements the main it needed to be buried deep enough to stop burrowing animals, extend a minimum of 10m into the ocean, be fire resistant and withstand high winds.

The Wilsons Promontory National Park was to become Victoria’s largest conservation sanctuary and have visitor experiences improved through the $23 million Wilsons Prom Revitalisation project.

The key to the project as the installation of 10km's of exclusion fence at the Prom to support efforts to turn the national park into a 50,000-hectare sanctuary, keeping destructive species out of the park and supporting the recovery and re-establishment of native animals, plants and habitats.

The Weekly Times reported in February Parks Victoria issued 13 tender documents, consisting of hundreds of pages outlining what would be a challenging project for any designer or contractor to deliver.

But just three days after the March 25 deadline for offers to be lodged, Parks Victoria issued an alert that it had withdrawn from the tender after struggling to attract bids and was “now considering an alternate procurement strategy for these works”.

The logistics of designing and building the fence outlined in the original tender documents were daunting, given it must traverse acid-sulphate soils, cross sand dunes, be buried deep enough to stop burrowing animals, extend at least 10m into the ocean beyond the low tide mark, be fire resistant and withstand the Promontory’s howling winds.

The planning process also meant whoever took on the job was required to complete cultural heritage and native vegetation offset plans, employ designers, hydrologists, engineers and surveyors, prior to seeking a contractor to build the fence.

T&S Rural Fencing contractor Tim Ebeyer said he would “love to do the job”, which he said was feasible, but would be a “mammoth task” at a time when the cost of materials was soaring and the sector was booked out for almost 12 months.

“You’re talking huge money,” Mr Ebeyer said.

One of the most significant issues faced was keeping the deer out of the Park because they are great swimmers. Opening the 48,244ha to balloted public land hunting and taking advantage of what many would regard as a resource would be a sure way to see the deer numbers controlled as they are now on Snake Island.

 

 

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