Council drives 4WD proposal
COFFS Harbour City Council has responded to backlash over a proposed policy that would force four-wheel-drive owners to buy a permit to drive on our region's beaches.
The council says talks with stakeholder and interest groups are under way on its proposed Vehicles on Beaches Access Policy and permit system within the local government area.
It comes as hundreds of people took to social media to oppose the plans, with some describing it as "a big cash grab", while a poll on the Advocate website showed just 26% of respondents were in support of the permit system.
The proposal was put forward by the MIDROC regional group of councils on the viability of introducing a regional permit system, discounted for pensioners and people with a disability.
MIDROC's board includes Coffs Harbour City Council general manager Steve McGrath, Mayor Denise Knight, and Bellingen Mayor Mark Troy.
Coffs Harbour City Council states the policy would assist in regulating the "behaviour of beach drivers" and protect sensitive coastal environment.
It's expected the draft policy will be tabled in a council meeting in April seeking endorsement for it to go out for public consultation for 28 days.
The council also noted consultation would be considered before making a decision whether to adopt the draft policy and introduce permits that would be in line with other local government areas in the region.
In a statement, the council said stakeholders have already identified a number of improvements such as improved signage and maintenance of access points as priorities for any funds which may be generated by the proposed permits.
Vehicles launching or retrieving boats at designated areas would still be able to access beaches for this purpose without a permit.