Beach vehicle access signs finally installed by Coffs Harbour City Council

Beach vehicle prohibition signs have been installed at Coffs Harbour beaches by Coffs Harbour City Council. Photo: Emma Darbin.

 

SIGNS prohibiting 4WD vehicles from driving on various beaches in the Coffs Harbour region were finally installed by Coffs Harbour City Council last week.

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The signs have been put in place following Council’s adoption of its ‘Vehicles on Beaches Policy’ in April to balance public safety, recreational activities and environmental protection.

The new signs advise people where beach driving is permitted along the Coffs Coast and where it is not permitted, and have been installed at beach access points at Sawtell Beach, Boambee Beach, Emerald Beach, Sandy Beach, Hearnes Lake Beach, Woolgoolga Back Beach, Woolgoolga Beach and Arrawarra Beach.

News of the installation of the signs generated a lot of community backlash on Council’s Facebook page when it was first announced by Council in September.

Community opposition against the new policy led to the creation of an e-petition titled, ‘Coffs Harbour City Council:
Revoke the new “Driving on Beaches Policy”’ on the Change.org website earlier this year following Council’s adoption of the new policy.

The e-petition has amassed a total of 1,314 signatures and states that the new policy has “closed vehicle access to several beaches completely, and significantly reduced access to others”.

“No middle ground, no trial period, no permit system-an outright adoption of restrictions without two way local community consultation,” the e-petition states.

“We believe that Coffs Harbour City Council should immediately revoke the new driving on beaches restrictions until full consultation can be demonstrated with the community by Council.”

Council responded to the e-petition on Tuesday, 13 October and stated that Council follows the procedure outlined in its Community Participant and Engagement Plan when proposing a change in policy.

“Council’s policy sought to provide a balance of beaches with vehicle access whilst protecting some beaches, and ensuring safe access for other beach users,” the Council statement read.

Since the signs have been installed, Council has seen a significant increase in people reporting others who are not doing the right thing.

Under the new policy, the Boambee Beach driving area has been reduced to exclude the mouth of the Boambee Creek estuary to reduce conflict with dog off leash, family usage and environmental sensitivity.

Vehicles are no longer permitted on Hearnes Lake Beach due to environmental sensitivity to nesting areas of endangered Little Terns, and nesting Green and Loggerhead sea turtles.

The 4WD allowable area at Woolgoolga Back Beach has been limited to north of the beach vehicle access point, to keep vehicles away from the Creek entrance.

Vehicles are no longer allowed on Arrawarra Beach, from Arrawarra Headland to the Arrawarra Creek entrance.

Corindi Beach access has been closed for public safety reasons by the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, which manages this area of Crown Land through a Reserve Committee.

Under the policy, provisions have been included for parking on Arrawarra Beach, Sandy Beach and Sawtell Beach to assist with the launching and retrieval of boats because of the distance to the nearest car park.

Council’s rangers are enforcing the new policy, and fines will be applied if people do not abide by the rules.

Action will also be taken against people whose vehicles can be identified from photographs.

Further information about Council’s ‘Vehicles on Beaches Policy’, including where you can and can’t drive on local beaches, can be accessed at https://haveyoursay.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au/beach-vehicle-access.

The e-petition can be viewed at https://www.change.org/p/mayor-denise-knight-coffs-harbour-city-council-revoke-the-new-driving-on-beaches-policy.

 

By Emma DARBIN

One thought on “Beach vehicle access signs finally installed by Coffs Harbour City Council

  1. Forget the thousand odd signatures against the council’s vehicles on beaches directive people who signed that would probably vote for Donald Trump if they could. If you really want to be sad drive up to Boambee Headland and look north along Boambe Beach. At times the beach resembles rally roads and the tears should roll seeing the damage done to the foredune vegetation by 4 wheel vehicles. This irresponsible action destabilises the dunal system leading to rapid erosing and must be halted. Well done council now police the regulations.

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