Council aims to draw a line in the sand over bad beach driving

ABOVE: Part of Airforce Beach is also a leash-free beach for dogs.

Susanna Freymark

The cost of restricting drivers on Airforce Beach at Evans Head was outlined in a report by Richmond Valley Council staff.

At the council meeting on March 21, Mayor Robert Mustow said it was an ongoing issue.

“Feedback from police is that behaviour has improved,” Mr Mustow said.

“The ranger said there had been improvement but there is still unacceptable behaviour on that stretch of beach.

“I’m over warnings. We need to start enforcement.”

Early estimates of imposing a curfew would be $1115 a week to cover out of hours wages. New signage would be about $2000 and a gate including a barrier would cost about $5000.

“There are community members who still want to drive on the beach – they’ve done it all their life,” Mr Mustow said.

“There are others who are over it. I don’t like a minority spoiling it for the majority.”

It is a privilege to drive on the beach, Mr Mustow said.

Airforce Beach will be closely monitored over the Easter break to see how drivers behave.

Council will then present a more detailed report. Council has liaised with Crown Lands, National Parks and police regarding future options for the beach.

At the meeting it was recommended the council consult with the community on the future of Airforce Beach with a view to closing the beach to all cars with existing limited exceptions to use the gate-controlled access at Boundary Creek.

Councillor Robert Hayes who raised the beach driving issue at February’s council meeting said it all “comes back to behaviour”.

“We can reduce the 4WD access area,” Mr Hayes said.

“Stop them getting into the sand dunes and doing environmental damage.”

After community consultation and another report, the options will become clearer.

Keeping Airforce Beach as a driving beach or banning driving altogether remains a contentious issue.

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