Parking changes to protect beach from illegal campers
AIMS to stop illegal camping and protect the sensitive environment at Seven Mile Beach is the goal with changes to parking by Byron Shire Council.
Seven Mile Beach, in the Broken Head Nature Reserve, is regarded by the National Parks and Wildlife Service as the being the third richest place in Australia for biodiversity.
Mayor, Simon Richardson, said the parking changes had resulted in the loss of a handful of spaces at Seven Mile Beach and several other spaces at Whites Beach.
There has been no change to parking at Kings Beach.
"Seven Mile Beach is one of the jewels of the Byron Shire and where it was once a haunt for locals, it has now been 'discovered' and that brings with it a whole lot of problems,” Mayor Richardson said.
"More tourists means there is a lot of competition and congestion on Seven Mile Beach Road which is a narrow, windy, dirt road that has always had very few safe areas to park.
"There have also been a number of bushfires in recent months because people are lighting campfires, and when cars are parked illegally along the narrow dirt road, access for Emergency Services is severely restricted and this becomes an issue for public safety.”
The increasing numbers of day trippers and illegal campers at Seven Mile Beach, leaving their rubbish and using the area as a toilet, are spoiling the area for locals and future generations.
"Sadly, tourists on social media promote Seven Mile Beach as an unspoilt tourist destination and they are turning up in ever increasing numbers and seemingly going out of their way to trash the place they came to enjoy,” Mayor Richardson said.
"These illegal campers have no regard for the environment, or for locals, and are happy to leave their rubbish everywhere.
"Something drastic had to be done to change the behaviour of illegal campers and improve parking and public safety and council has been working closely with the NPWS, Police, the Rural Fire Service and local residents to find solutions to what are very complex issues.”
Mayor Richardson is aware the parking restrictions have upset locals and council and other stakeholders have developed an action plan to be discussed at the meeting on December 14.
"I understand that some locals are cranky but I am sure they will also agree that the situation in the Broken Head Nature Reserve cannot be allowed to continue to get worse,” he said.
"People are telling me that they are concerned that the popularity of the Byron Shire is disenfranchising many residents who feel they are being robbed of their lifestyle.
"It is council's aim to work out a long-term solution to access issues at Seven Mile Beach with the rights of locals and the protection of this sensitive environment to be at the forefront of any decision.”