Access or protection for our precious beaches
BYRON Council has been accused of locking Byron Shire locals out of Seven Mile Beach in favour of the areas residents, after council erected No Parking signs and dumped boulders by the side of the the road to thwart illegal camping and parking.
Council is due to receive a report on a range of controversial measures taken and recommended to protect the area including parking restrictions, extra powers for council staff and the use of surveillance cameras.
An online petition objecting to council's action and lack of broad consultation has so far attracted 1228 signatures ahead of the meeting.
The petition says council's actions were, "formulated following extensive consultation with landholders along Seven Mile Beach Road, but not the broader community.
"We have currently lost parking at Seven Mile Beach and we want it back.
"If the same approach is applied across the length of Seven Mile Beach, access to Whites Beach, Brays Beach, Kings Beach, and Broken Head Nature Reserve will also be impacted.
The petition will be delivered to Mayor Simon Richardson and General Manger Ken Gainger.
Local surfer Neil Cameron said the degradation of Byron's natural assets by illegal camping and littering was a shire wide problem.
"Illegal camping is symptomatic of what is happening everywhere but the measures taken by council at Seven Mile Beach Road are a massive over-reaction," Mr Cameron said.
Mayor Simon Richardson said suggestions the measures had been undertaken "to improve the amenity of local residents" were baseless.
He said the increasing numbers of day trippers and illegal campers at Seven Mile Beach, leaving their rubbish and using the area as a toilet, were spoiling the area for locals and future generations.
"Sadly, tourists on social media promote Seven Mile Beach as an unspoilt tourist destination and they are turning up in ever increasing numbers and seemingly going out of their way to trash the place they came to enjoy," Mayor Richardson said.
In the meantime one measure has already borne fruit with evidence obtained from covert surveillance cameras being trialled at Seven Mile Beach being used in a prosecution case for alleged unauthorised access to the beach by a 4-wheel-drive vehicle in November.
Council staff have recommend Council endorse the current Action Plan for wider community consultation with a report to be presented to council in early 2018.