Coffs Harbour City Council is currently engaging with key
stakeholder and interest groups to get their views on a proposal to implement a
Vehicles on Beaches Access Policy and permit system for 4 wheel drive vehicles
which access beaches within the Coffs Harbour LGA.
The proposal has arisen following discussion by the MIDROC regional
group of councils on the viability of introducing a single regional permit
system with an annual fee, discounted for pensioners and people with a disability,
that would allow 4WD enthusiasts and fishermen access to all 4WD accessible
beaches from Coffs Harbour local government area south to Great Lakes.
The proposal, if enacted, would assist in regulating the
behaviour of beach drivers and help protect our sensitive coastal environment
by applying a common set of rules and costs across the region. Currently many
of the seven councils involved already operate their own permit system which
sees a range of different costs and rules applied from one LGA to the next and
which currently requires drivers to purchase a permit from each LGA they visit.
The MIDROC proposal would see a single regional permit which
would allow drivers to operate their vehicle on any endorsed 4WD beach within
the region. It is planned that a report
on a draft policy will go up to Council for consideration in April seeking
endorsement to go out for formal consultation across the wider Coffs Harbour
community for a period of 28 days.
This consultation would be considered by Council before
making a decision whether to adopt the draft policy and whether to introduce a
permit system that would be in line with other local government areas in the
Stakeholders have already identified a number of
improvements such as improved signage, maintenance of access points and
provision of rubbish bins at access points as priorities for any funds which
may be generated by the proposed permits.
The draft Vehicles on Beaches Access Policy and permit
system will focus solely on access to beaches for vehicles and will have no
impact on other recreational uses. If
supported by Council and the community the policy will enable improved
regulation of vehicle use on our beaches and a consistency of rules across the
MIDROC region making them safer and enjoyable for all users.
Importantly under the proposal vehicles launching or
retrieving boats at designated launch areas will still be able to access
beaches for this purpose without a permit.
“Any revenue generated from the permit system
would be put towards improving facilities and access points at these 4WD
accessible beaches in the Coffs Harbour LGA,” said Mick Raby, Director
Sustainable Infrastructure, Coffs Harbour City Council.