Squatters wrecking our beaches
ILLEGAL campers and squatters are continuing to wreak environmental havoc in the sand hills behind Brunswick Heads beach.
To add insult to injury some squatters are destroying hard work already done by volunteer bush regeneration group Byron Shire Chenicak Free Landcare and threatening some volunteers.
A new fence built by Crown Lands just south of the surf club is being by-passed by cars and motor bikes that often drive at dangerous speeds through the area.
There are reports of rubbish being strewn around the area, dogs without leads wandering and fires are being lit.
Project Coordinator Nadia de Souza Pietramale said cars are getting through a gap between the Community Centre and basketball courts.
"One particularly aggressive squatter has been camping in our regeneration project area for the past three years," she said.
"He regularly sets fire to timber and finds it funny to play golf over the top of our work, often cutting down or damaging trees we plant to regenerate the area."
Rowan Stewart from the Brunswick Bush School, that accesses the area for education purposes, commended the work done so far to protect the area but said things were deteriorating fast.
"Things are deteriorating once again, due to a lack of presence from responsible authorities and enforcement agencies," Mr Stewart said.
"My concern is ...we will have an area that is trashed, the natural amenities being severely compromised and the area will keep attracting people who have no care for the area or for other members of the public or for the rule of law.
"Several people have already mentioned that they no longer feel safe to go into the area."
Council Shire Council confirmed they manage the Surf Club car park area and the land west of that extending to the tennis courts, to the fenced area.
This is a comparitively small area with the majority of the area behind the beach under the control of NSW Crown Lands.
"Council enforcement teams regularly monitor the Surf Club and tennis court area in Brunswick Heads on average around 3 to 4 times a week at different times of the day and night. This area is co-enforced by Council, Police and National Parks," the council spokesman said.
"Our enforcement team is currently investigating the broken fencing near the tennis courts at Brunswick Heads and will rectify it if broken."
Ms de Souza Pietramale said, "In the ten years we have been working on the project to restore the natural vegetation we have had contact with Crown Lands just once despite repeated requests for support."
Crown Lands have been contacted for this story.