Arrawarra beach is one of a number of popular spots where there is a need to restrict 4WD access due to public safety concerns.
Arrawarra beach is one of a number of popular spots where there is a need to restrict 4WD access due to public safety concerns. Trevor Veale

Arrawarra suspension part of new driving on beaches plan

FOUR wheel drive access on Arrawarra Beach will be temporarily suspended due to concerns for public safety.

4WDs will not be able to use Arrawarra Beach between Arrawarra Headland and the creek entrance, nor will they be permitted on Corindi Beach any longer.

The temporary restriction will be in place from December 21 (the start of the school holidays) until March 1. It's just one of the changes included in a new draft Vehicles on Beaches policy for the Coffs Coast.

"There is a genuine existing conflict between four-wheel-drives and pedestrians in that area," Coffs Harbour City Council Director Sustainable Infrastructure Mick Raby explained during Thursday evening's council meeting.

He was responding to concerns raised by Councillor John Arkan about the limited timeframe to inform the community of the closures.

Other changes included in the draft policy include the removal of vehicle access to Hearnes Lake Beach due to environmental sensitivity. North of Hearnes Lake Road to Wills Creek is a nesting area for the endangered little terns and sea turtles (Green and Loggerhead turtles).

Access to Darkum Beach (in the Safety Beach area) would also be removed due to the topography of the beach.

At Woolgoolga Back Beach the allowable area will be limited to north of the access point to keep vehicles away from the creek entrance which could potentially move north due to sea level rise and other climate change impacts. This may be reviewed in the future as these processes impact further on the existing car park.

A report prepared for councillors on the matter referred to the long held concerns in regards to the environmental impacts of 4WDs on beaches from damage to dunal vegetation; impacts from sand compaction; impacts on little tern colonies, turtles and shore birds; as well as safety concerns for other beach users.

Councillors voted unanimously to place the new policy on public exhibition for 28 days from mid-January to the end of February.