‘I will not stand by and wait for somebody to be hurt’
A POLICE operation saw more than 150 four-wheel drives stopped on South Ballina beaches over the long weekend, and now Ballina MP Tamara Smith says it is time for locals only permits to be introduced.
She has called on Ballina Shire Council and Crown Lands to work together on the issue.
"I will not stand by and wait for somebody to be hurt before action is taken," she said.
"I am calling on Ballina Shire Council to introduce a permit system immediately for locals and Aboriginal members of our community only.
"Ideally, Crown Land would have resolved this by now but they have not and as it is a residential safety issue primarily, I think that council needs to step up and be the responsible adult in this situation."
Ms Smith said the problem was highlighted during Richmond Police District's recent blitz on local beaches.
She said officers were only on patrol for a "few hours at a time" over three days, but stopped 150 vehicles for random breath tests.
"That's more than 50 vehicles a day on the beach just in those short windows of time," she said.
"Sorry, that is outrageous.
"Our beaches are for residents and visitors to enjoy walking and swimming and hand fishing and we all accept that locals may responsibly drive down to fish.
"But driving up and down the beach and the dune bashing that we see is crazy and the sheer numbers of out of towners on the beach is out of control and will only increase with 'staycations'.
"We also know that there are huge environmental impacts from this type of vehicle intensity and threats to the already endangered pied oyster catchers as well as the dunal system, and of course impacts on Aboriginal heritage."
Ballina Shire Council closed access at Patchs Beach earlier this year.
Councillors also voted to write to the State Government to advocate for a statewide policy on the issue of 4WDs on beaches.