30.8 C
Byron Shire
October 23, 2021

Independent Ballina councillor determined to reduce 4WD beach impacts

Latest News

A dumb act of STP

Council is stating that breaches of licence conditions, in part, justifies spending $10m on transferring raw sewage from Ocean...

Other News

Raucous AUKUS

Over the last 20 years or more, Australia has benefited greatly from its economic relationship with China. You may...

Staff cuts at Murwillumbah mega school

The NSW Teacher's Federations says that the proposed merger of four schools in Murwillumbah will result in the loss of at least 19 teaching positions.

COVID’s genetic solution?

A lucky few are unusually resistant to COVID-19. Scientists are trying to find a reason in their genes.

Bring your people together!

It’s time to bring people together! Wherever you might like to party, Event Byron Bay has you covered. From...

XR plans two weeks of ‘Reclaim our Future’ protests

Extinction Rebellion Lismore is part of the Northern Rivers push to highlight the issue of climate change and a march and candlelit vigil last night was the start to a fortnight of ‘Reclaim Our Future’ protests.

Who can I trust?

COVID, WHO SHOULD I TRUST ?   I tend to trust people who care, who demonstrate they have no agenda, but to be...

Independent Ballina Shire Councillor Jeff Johnson says he isn’t giving up hope for reduced 4WD access to Seven Mile Beach.

A majority of Ballina Shire councillors last month voted against Cr Johnson’s idea of restricting access to local residents and the council’s permit structure to six and twelve-month renewals.

But Cr Johnson says he’ll revisit options to change the permit structure later this month when the council budget is tabled.

‘There is general support to remove the single day and weekend passes,’ Cr Johnson told The Echo on Tuesday, explaining that an increase in fees for the longer permits could help compensate revenue losses and continue to cover costs of rangers employed to monitor Seven Mile Beach.

Ballina Shire councillor Jeff Johnson.

Record numbers of 4WD weekenders to Seven Mile Beach

Figures included in the Ballina Shire Council’s ordinary May meeting agenda showed out of 3,721 permits issued in the 2020-2021 financial year, a record of more than 3,000 were one-day passes.

Council staff notes said most permits were used on weekends, ‘with late morning to early evening typically being the period of highest volumes for entry to and from the beach’.

The scheme earned the council $114,000 that year.

The Ballina Shire Council’s current permit scheme allows for a maximum validation period of six months and last year those passes accounted for less than ten per cent of all issued: 309.

Cr Johnson said he was concerned the state government’s closure of South Ballina beach about six months ago would increase the number of 4WD vehicles heading to Seven Mile Beach, particularly from, he wrote in explanatory notes on the motion, ‘outside our area’.

4WD vehicles on Seven Mile Beach, 14 November 2020. Photo Coastal Defenders Network.

‘Hoons from QLD disrespecting other beach users and the environment’, says councillor

‘A key reason for the closure by the NSW Government of the beach south of Ballina was the hoons coming down from QLD and disrespecting other beach users and the environment’, Cr Johnson wrote, ‘having a “locals only” permit system removes the risk of 4WD tourism and large numbers of vehicles heading to Lennox to access the beach’.

Cr Johnson later told The Echo of social media groups in Queensland promoting the long beach as a 4WD ‘adventure’ destination and videos online showing the drivers’ subsequent irresponsible behaviour.

‘We certainly don’t want to have scenes like there were down at South Ballina, where you get long lines of cars from 4WD clubs coming down there and camping and really making a mess of the place,’ Cr Johnson said.

Cr Johnson said restricting 4WD permits for Seven Mile Beach to Ballina Shire registered vehicles would also improve compliance with the council’s existing ‘Guidelines for 4WD vehicles on Seven Mile Beach’.

Manual v machine 4WD permit system

But council staff disagree, and last month wrote in agenda notes that the machines currently used to issue tickets couldn’t determine whether the user was a Ballina Shire resident or not and a new manual permit system would have to be introduced.

Staff then wrote of a ‘risk’ the change would ‘lead to increased non-compliance with respect to having a permit’.

This would then create ‘increased enforcement demand’, staff wrote, ‘not necessarily achieving less beach use and a loss of the short-term pass revenue’.

Staff said major non-compliances ‘such as dune impact’ weren’t regularly observed and that ‘from an operational perspective’ the permit system was working well.

Coastal Reserve PoM a chance for greater beach protection, staff say

They said the council was reviewing its Coastal Reserve Plan of Management [PoM], and community consultation would seek feedback on preferred uses of Coastal Crown Reserves, of which Seven Mile Beach is one.

Staff also listed alternative suggestions for ways the council could reduce the number of 4WD visitors to Seven Mile Beach, including closing it during peak holiday seasons and putting an end to short-term pricing.

Cr Johnson supports the idea of changing permit prices but told The Echo the Coastal Reserve PoM process would take too long and he hoped to win support for a change to the system this as early as this month.

‘In the future, I see there being an app or electronic key, so that only permit holders can actually get through the access gate, which will stop the situation you have now where vehicles can go down there without a permit,’ Cr Johnson said.

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


  1. vehicles should not be allowed on a beach fullstop. times have changed. park ya car and walk like the rest of us and stop driving all over our beaches.
    I can’t believe this is still legal or perhaps just a money spinner for an unconcerned council


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

COVID-19 update: 5 new cases in the NNSWLHD

Northern NSW Local Health District, Acting Chief Executive, Lynne Weir, says there were five new cases of COVID-19 reported for the District to 8pm last night, 21 October.

NSW Education responds to Teachers Federation over Murwillumbah Education Campus staff cuts

The NSW Education Department has responded to the NSW Teachers Federation's accusation that Education Minister Sarah Mitchell has only just revealed the extent of staff cuts at the mega school.

The Rebels and the Wraiths visit Nationals: ‘We are facing a planetary crisis’

As part of a fortnight of climate actions and protests with the Extinction Rebellion, over 30 activists visited MP Kevin Hogan’s office in Lismore yesterday pushing ghostly empty white prams.

NSW Legislative Council expresses concerns over push to burn native forests for power

The NSW Legislative Council unanimously passed a motion expressing its concerns over the growing push by industry to burn NSW native forests for electricity and hydrogen production.