A local beach users group has lauded an eleventh-hour decision by the environment minister Rob Stokes to overrule a National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) proposal to close Kings Beach car park.
The proposal was first mooted two years ago, when the NPWS drew up a new draft Plan of Management for the beach.
It drew a swift and negative reaction from beach users, with an online petition garnering hundreds of signatures in just a few days, and attendees at a community consultation day unanimously condemning the plan.
But nothing was heard following the community consultation process until just three days before the election, when Mr Stokes wrote to objectors to say he had vetoed the proposal.
‘I appreciate your interest in the effective management of our national parks and particularly ensuring sensible public access to the beautiful beaches of our north coast. Kings Beach is a unique part of the Broken Head Nature Reserve and holds a special place in the hearts of visitors and locals,’ he wrote.
‘The Plan of Management is still being finalised but I am writing to let you know that I have instructed the National Parks and Wildlife Service to keep Kings Beach car park open,’ he added
‘References in the Plan of Management to car park closure will also be removed. This is consistent with advice from the National Parks and Wildlife Advisory Council and I am advised that such a decision will not have adverse environmental impacts.
‘The Baird government is proud to help protect access for all the community by keeping the car park open,’ Mr Stokes said.
Victory for commonsense
Spokesperson for the Facebook group Friends of Kings Beach and Tyagarah Nature Reserve, Wayne Penn, who organised the petition, told Echonetdaily the decision was ‘a victory for commonsense’.
‘While it is tempting to be cynical about the timing of the announcement, still it comes as a welcome relief that the government has seen fit to override one of the more ludicrous plans of its bureaucrats, Mr Penn said.
‘There was never any credible argument for closing the car park and Mr Stokes appears to agree with us that the environmental justification given in the draft plan was simply a furphy.
‘If the car park had been closed, it would’ve caused traffic chaos along Seven Mile Beach Road.’
Mr Penn reminded beach users to ‘please use the car park we’ve fought to keep open for you rather than parking on the side of the road, which is dangerous and likely to land you with a hefty fine from Byron Shire Council.’