Margaret Howes, Empire Vale.
Something has to be done to sort out the problems on the beach and foredunes between South Ballina and Evans Head. The government agencies are absolutely useless, stating it is not their responsibility.
It is listed all over the internet that you can come and 4WD in this area, and the volume of traffic there is now unsustainable, with people speeding, doing donuts, and driving without due care and attention to wildlife and other beach users. It is only a matter of time before someone is killed.
There are campsites in the foredunes, where large tarps have been erected after breaking off branches from the horsetail casuarina trees, and with people, the kitchen sink, vehicles, and dogs in residence.
Fires are another issue and yesterday we had to put out a smouldering hollow log that had been left behind by another lot of campers. These people do not care how they trash the environment.
Many are red P-platers from Queensland. They arrive, set up camp, light fires, and start drinking, then claim they can’t move on because of the zero alcohol limit on their licence.
The police are doing their best, but there are no signs south of the Richmond River prohibiting camping, fires, dogs, unlicensed vehicles, and alcohol. The police have limited resources, and it is just not fair to thrust this upon them.
There is a Pied Oystercatcher Strategy along the beaches in this area, yet no-one polices it outside of the National Parks boundaries.
An environmental scientist in Broadwater National Park told me that a few months ago the NP rangers issued 72 fines in a three-week period, with the most expensive fine being about $3,500 for parking on a pied oyster catcher nesting site. Someone, who could possibly be an aggrieved recipient of a large fine, subsequently burnt the NP toilet block to the ground.
The pied oystercatcher habitat has been destroyed, the birds are hardly to be seen. These 4WDs drive above and below the mean high water mark and up on the terrace where birds and turtles breed. It is shameful.
New 4WD tracks have been cut in the bitou on the sand dunes so people can come and go more easily to the beach. Tracks have been cut running parallel with the beach. The place is an absolute mess.
The campers come off the beach looking for an overnight campsite. They mostly come that way, as they are not so easily noticed.
It is time for action – now!