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Scenes like this at Brooms Head during holiday seasons will be a thing of the past when Clarence Valley Council’s revised Beach Access and Vehicles on Beaches Policy is implemented. Image: Steve Otton

Broom applied to CVC’s beach access policy

Geoff Helisma | Reviewing Clarence Valley Council’s (CVC) Beach Access and Vehicles on Beaches Policy was never going to be easy. The report to the September 18 council meeting made it clear when staff wrote: “The policy reflects a very divisive issue within the community, with recommendations [received], to implement controlled access points, increase levels of compliance, develop appropriate signage and increasing awareness.” “This report presents the outcomes of the review ..: 74 submissions were received from members of the public, along with three petitions with 681 signatories.” Submissions to CVC discussed: No vehicles on beaches (oppose beach access; keep for passive recreation) – 29 submissions; limiting access to beaches to management vehicles, boat launching and permitted vehicles – 24 submissions; and, implementing the existing policy regarding education, permits and enforcement – 21 submissions. Regarding petitions, 77 signatories called for a ban of 4WDs at Wooli during holiday periods, 512 signatories called for the installation of a regulated boom gate at the Lake Cakora entrance to Brooms Head Beach and 92 signatories opposed the installation of a “boom gate or other barrier which would prevent boat launching” at Brooms Head. Debate was largely led by Cr Greg Clancy, who eventually gained majority support, with councillors Jason Kingsley, Richie Williams, Arthur Lysaught and Andrew Baker voting against his nine-point motion, preferring a motion from Cr Kingsley. Councillor Kingsley’s motion, however, was similar to Cr Clancy’s. Both called for the promotion of “the safe use of beaches by vehicles especially around NSW and Queensland school holiday periods”; an increase in monitoring the levels of compliance and enforcement, funded from beach permit revenue; the monitoring of erosion and beach access at all Clarence Valley beaches in conjunction with the Yaegl Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation; updating and reviewing signage at 4WD access points; and reporting on the changes and implementation of the policy within 18 months of its adoption. Councillor Kingsley had called for CVC to “monitor impacts on flora and fauna on beaches as a result of vehicle and general use”, but only if requested by the relevant NSW state agency; whereas Cr Clancy’s successful motion resulted in CVC carrying out monitoring the impacts as a matter of course. Both councillors advocated the installation of unlocked boom gates (or controlled gates) and associated vehicle access prevention bollards, which will be installed at Brooms Head near Lake Cakora and at Wooli breakwater. The main point of difference was more specific: Cr Clancy’s successful motion, once implemented, will “prohibit motor vehicles on the beach at Brooms Head main beach – from the southern end boat launching ramp to Redcliff – with several exceptions. Vehicles used in launching ocean craft, for both recreational and professional fishing activities, will be able to utilise “the southern end boat ramp and … the access point near Lake Cakora”. Essential service vehicles will have beach access. At Wooli beach, access will be prohibited north of the breakwater for 500 metres, with the exception of essential service vehicles. The Brooms Head community can expect another round of public consultation, too. Councillor Clancy’s motion called for “a report including an investigation into relocating the beach access at Lake Cakora”.