Rules around the sudden closure of South Ballina Beach to four-wheel drives should be amended, says a Ballina Shire councillor.
The four-wheel drive ban came into effect on March 31.
It was announced by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment – Crown Lands and National Parks and Wildlife Service just one week beforehand, and sparked outrage in the community.
Reasons for the closure included “ongoing concerns about public safety and impacts to the environment and Aboriginal heritage values”.
Cr Keith Williams has prepared a motion for the next council meeting, on Thursday, April 22, calling for the council to write to the NSW Minister for Crown Lands about the issue.
He said while he welcomed action to “reduce risk to beach users and limit ongoing environmental degradation to South Ballina Beach”, he was concerned there had not been any community consultation.
He wants the department to engage with local residents and consider “modifications” to the proposed list of “approved users”, to include people with a disability, seniors, immediate neighbours, licensed wildlife rescuers and members of local fishing clubs.
“Failure to consult the community undermines respect for both the decision-making process and the eventual decision,” Cr Williams said.
“Residents of South Ballina and the wider community of beach users deserve the opportunity to formally provide input into the future management of South Ballina Beach.”
Cr Williams also said community engagement regarding a significant change to the use of the Crown Reserve should be undertaken by Crown Lands, as outlined by their own policy documents.
Ballina Shire councillors will vote on the motion on Thursday.