4WD permits taking priority

A PERMIT system for four-wheel drives on Lennox Head’s Seven Mile Beach could be in place before the Easter school holidays.

Advocates for the permits say it is desperately needed to help the beach recover from storm damage.

They also say permits would protect the dunes and beach-dwelling animals, such as turtles and crabs, and make the beach safer for people.

ECOfishers chief executive, Ken Thurlow, said his organisation would support a permit system.

“Some form of regulation is enjoyable because it keeps the cowboys out,” he said.

“There are permit systems in other shires. It’s a good idea as long as the fees aren’t exorbitant.”

The council had planned to introduce 4WD permits as part of the precinct management plans, but the process could now be fast-tracked.

A report on the permit system will be prepared as a ‘high priority’.

Cr Jeff Johnson, who raised the issue as a notice of motion, said storm damage and beach erosion had led to some 4WD users driving on the dunes.

“There is a lot of damage on the beach and it is coming up to the peak season,” he said.

“A permit system probably should have been introduced a while ago.”

However Cr Johnson admitted a complete ban could be more effective in protecting the beach environment.

“I would be happy for four-wheel drives to be banned. Four-wheel drive use and a healthy beach ecosystem don’t go together,” he said.

“Most people do the right thing, but we have to create more awareness.”

However Mr Thurlow said banning 4WDs completely was ‘ridiculous’.

“A lot of recreational fishers are over 60 with joint, knee and hip problems,” he said.

“The only way for them to access these remote places is by 4WD.”

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