4WD VEHICLE owners now face infringement notices and fines if they fail to comply with new beach vehicle access restrictions recently imposed by Coffs Harbour City Council.
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Council is this week installing signs restricting 4WD vehicle access to several popular Coffs Coast beaches, following Council’s adoption of its ‘Vehicles on Beaches Policy’ in April to balance public safety, recreational activities and environmental protection.
Vehicles not abiding by the new signage and Council’s revised beach access restricted areas now face infringement notices and fines as of 3 September.
The installation of the new signs has generated alot of community backlash on Council’s Facebook site, since it informed residents of the new signage last week.
The signs are being installed at beach access points at Sawtell Beach, Boambee Beach, Emerald Beach, Sandy Beach, Hearnes Lake Beach, Woolgoolga Back Beach and Woolgoolga Beach.
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.
“Beaches are highly valued by both the local community of Coffs Harbour and the many visitors to our region,” Council’s Sustainable Infrastructure Director Mick Raby said.
“Beaches and their dunes are also vital ecological habitats to a variety of native flora and fauna, as well as offering protection from coastal erosion processes.
“We believe the policy represents a balanced approach that allows the 4WD and fishing community to continue to enjoy these natural assets, while protecting the safety of other beach users and the sensitive and dynamic beach environment.”
Under the policy, provisions have been included for parking on Sandy Beach and Sawtell Beach to assist with the launching and retrieval of boats because of the distance to the nearest car park.
The new signage advises which Coffs Coast beaches the general public may access with vehicles, and which beaches are closed to vehicles other than those operated by relevant authorities, emergency services and licensed fishers.
The conditions of public vehicle access to beaches and details of accessible beaches can be viewed in Council’s ‘Vehicles on Beaches Policy’ and ‘Guide Maps for Vehicles on Beaches Policy’ on Council’s website at https://haveyoursay.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au/beach-vehicle-access.
The community is encouraged to report to Council any illegal vehicle access or driver behaviour on beaches using the https://www.snapsendsolve.com/ app.
By Emma DARBIN