4WD beach access an ongoing dispute
DEBATE on the restrictions placed on four-wheel-drive vehicle access to Brooms Head and Wooli beaches has continued, as Clarence Valley Council confirm it has received complaints about the installation of boom gates.
In response to the complaints, 4WD enthusiasts have voiced their concern that a small number of people doing the wrong thing will ruin the favourite pasttime for future generations.
Council environment, planning and community director Des Schroder said the council had received three requests about vehicles on Brooms Head beach since the start of the holiday season in December.
"On Sunday a resident told (the) council there was a vehicle on the beach and the occupants had damaged a sign that had been erected advising of the new beach access restrictions," Mr Schroder said.
"Police were notified and officers went to investigate.
"The same resident advised of a second incidence of a four-wheel drive vehicle on the beach.
"These have been fairly isolated incidents. Generally the new policy seems to be working quite well."
The council confirmed permit holders would not have access to the affected beaches until June, with only essential service vehicles, boat launching vehicles and emergency services allowed access.
Brooms Head local Graeme Coulter said he regularly used his 4WD to access the beach, and it was a minority that caused problems.
"I'm worried a way of life for me and a lot of other people will be taken away from us because some people don't want us on the beach," Mr Coulter said.
"I've been taking the kids out on the beach for years and it's never hurt anybody.
"There's just a few people who are doing the wrong thing, so why is it not possible to keep a ranger out so that everyone can enjoy (vehicle access)."
Wooli's James Watson said he saw irresponsible drivers on Wooli Beach, reporting three close calls within a week.
"What is it going to take before (the) council does something about the 4WD stupidity on the beach," Mr Watson said.
"On December 28 I called (the) council's emergency number after a near miss while walking on the surf edge.
"On January 4 I called again around 8.45am regarding a 4WD hanging off the lip of the dune out the front of our nearest beach access heading towards the breakwall.
"By 12.30pm the same day there was a second vehicle in trouble in the same place heading towards Wilson's Headland, despite council staff having apparently closed all 4WD entry points at around 9.30am.
"It's dangerous for kids, families and other beach users. Another vehicle also passed at speed within two metres of my kids who were making sand castles despite shouts from me to the driver to slow down.
Drivers of vehicles with disability permits can continue to drive on many Clarence Valley beaches despite restrictions introduced by the council late last year.
The council's acting general manager Troy Anderson said the council's beach access policy included provisions to ensure people with disabilities could still get to the beach.