A petition established yesterday opposing the permanent closure of Byron’s Kings Beach carpark by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has already drawn more than 100 signatories.
A Save Kings Beach Facebook page has also been created.
The option of closing the carpark is buried on page 31 of the Broken Head Nature Reserve Draft Plan of Management (DPoM), under the heading ‘Bushwalking’.
A reference is also made to the planned closure at the foot of a press release issued by the NPWS promoting an information morning on the DPoM to be held next Saturday morning at Broken Head picnic area. Submissions on the plan are due a week later.
The NPWS says the building of a new, longer walking track to Kings Beach (2.6km return) would justify the closure and reclamation of the carpark, situated at the top of the existing walking track.
The planned new walk would join the Three Sisters walking track to the top of the existing track. Beachgoers would then still need to walk down to the beach from the top of the existing track.
The NPWS has no plans to replace the existing 25 spaces with extra parking at Broken Head, effectively reducing beach access.
The petition’s initiator, Wayne Penn, told Echonetdaily the plan to close the popular carpark was ‘unjustifiable’ and ‘flies in the face of the NPWS’s stated aim to increase visitation to the state’s national parks’.
‘My partner and I chose our property partly because of its proximity to Kings Beach, which is one of the most magical beaches on the entire east coast.’
‘I know several disabled regular users who just manage to get down the existing track on their crutches. They would be prevented from using the beach if this new plan were to go ahead.’
Mr Penn, who runs a B&B near Bangalow, said approximately 80 per cent of his guests preferred to go to Kings Beach over Byron’s Main Beach.
‘Kings is everything Main Beach is not. There are no drunken louts, no fights, no rednecks and, despite the fact that there are no garbage bins provided, very little rubbish.
‘My guests are overwhelmingly middle aged, middle class, well educated and well heeled. They are exactly the kind of visitor Byron is trying to attract – and NPWS wants to close down the carpark to their main attraction because they say a few overnight vans stop there.
‘Overnight parking is a shirewide problem and nobody anywhere else in the shire is suggesting the way to deal with it is to eliminate car parking spaces.’
NPWS also claims rehabilitation of the car park would reduce salt-related dieback of rainforest, weed invasion on the edges of the carpark and introduction of pathogens on vehicles.
Mr Penn said, ‘the environmental reasons for the closure given in the plan are completely spurious. The entire western boundary of the park is along the Seven Mile Beach Rroad, and there are other edges along Broken Head Road and the Broken Head Caravan Park. The length of “edge” of the Kings Beach carpark is probably less than two per cent of total “edge” of the park.
‘It is hard not to draw the conclusion that the real motivation of NPWS is bureaucratic homophobia, since a high proportion of park users are gay men,’ he said.
Echonetdaily requested a response from NPWS but none was received by deadline.
The information meeting will be held next Saturday February 16, 10–11am at the Broken Head Picnic Area.
The petition, which calls on state environment minister Robyn Parker to rule out the plan, can be viewed at http://www.change.org/en-AU/petitions/robyn-parker-mp-minister-for-the-environment-stop-planned-closure-of-kings-beach-car-park-near-broken-head-byron-bay.
Copies of the Draft Plan are available free of charge at the NPWS office at Byron Bay, by calling NPWS on 6620 9300, or on the web at http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/parkmanagement/BrokenHeadNRdraft.htm.
Written submissions on the draft plan must reach NPWS by February 23 at PO Box 127 Byron Bay NSW 2481 or by email to [email protected]