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Byron Shire
May 30, 2023

4WD issue heating up in Lennox

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4WD tracks all over Seven Mile Beach recently. Photo supplied.

Ballina Shire Council’s public comment period regarding 4WDs on Seven Mile Beach closed over a month ago, but the issue isn’t going away, with a seminar to be held at the Lennox Hotel on Monday already booked out.

Recently, 4WDs on beaches have been in the news for all the wrong reasons across NSW, with a group of turtle hatchlings near Hawks Nest yesterday having to be carried over 4WD tracks to the water by volunteers, and a runaway horse being struck and killed by a 4WD driven by a P plater on Airforce Beach, north of Evans Head, earlier this month.

This comes after ongoing reported incidents of serious hooning behaviour on Seven Mile Beach, especially over Easter.

Megan Ward on South Ballina beach. Photo David Lowe.

Critical conversation

Monday night’s Critical Conversation seminar event is being organised by Ballina Cr Kiri Dicker, and will examine the impact of 4WDs on beach ecosystems

Panellists will include Dr Thomas Schlacher, Professor of Marine Science at the University of the Sunshine Coast, and environmental advocate Megan Ward, who successfully campaigned to close South Ballina Beach to 4WDs in 2021.

Cr Dicker describes Cr Schlacher as a global expert in how sandy beach ecosystems work, and how they can be conserved for future generations.

‘The focus of his research is on the environmental effects of human activities, and the strategies that are more effective in conserving vulnerable and irreplaceable features of the natural environment,’ said Cr Dicker.

Ballina Cr Kiri Dicker. Photo David Lowe.

She said the critical conversation about the future of 4WDs on local beaches will ask:

  • what is the impact of 4WDs on beach ecosystems?
  • is there a sustainable threshold for vehicles on beaches?
  • what strategies have been successful in affecting policy reform?
  • how can we craft an effective narrative for beach conservation?

The discussion will be followed by questions. Although the event is already fully subscribed, you can add your name to the waiting list here: https://www.kiridicker.com/4wdseminar.

The Echo will also be reporting on the seminar.

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  1. This situation is a complete disgrace and should have been addressed years ago. Why on earth do we have 4 Wds threatening wildlife and disrupting ecosystems when globally we are working to restore them.
    The majority of our businesses in the region trade on nature, biodiversity and well-being and yet this behaviour is contrary to respect and protecting the environment.
    Regenerative tourism is where we are heading whether you support it or not as the environment and economic forces will dictate this.
    Ballina and Byron Council need to form a united front and start to make decisions that safeguard our biodiversity and wildlife. We should not be waiver if on this issue.
    Likewise the issue of dogs off leash everywhere needs a new strategy. If you talk to vets, wildlife carers or just look out your car window or on your walk there are dogs everywhere off leash, wandering or at times lost for days. It’s having an impact there is scientific research that confirms this.
    The general speeds and wildlife kill or injury that is occurring across both Shires is again totally out of control and avoidable yet how many people are booked for speeding.
    These decisions may appear environmental however they are economic and social. Broken Head is trashed every weekend by cars that flog the road and there is not even any revenue collected for the privilege of enjoying world class biodiversity, nature, indigenous culturally sensitive areas and exceptional beaches. Brunswick and other areas similar to Seven Mile need new management plans that are designed for increased visitation, larger vehicles, more dogs, drones, increase in fishing etc etc.


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