Get these 4WDs off the beach

Last year, we posted a first video showing that there were too many four wheel drives (4WDs) on South Ballina Beach. Eight months later, this clip presents further evidence against 4WDs on the beach. This sort of activity is happening every weekend.

The 4WDs problem is fundamentally a land management issue and not a policing issue. There is no point in punishing individual drivers for misbehaving because there are thousands of them and they will keep coming. The best solution is to LOCK THE BEACH.

A perfect storm of irresponsible planning: the beach erosion hazard at Boundary Creek, South Ballina Beach, NSW

Summary. Long-term shoreline recession, a rising sea level and the low, narrow dune barrier at Boundary Creek present a beach erosion hazard that has been re-examined and upgraded in this study. It is predicted that by 2050–2100 there will be no front dune left, greatly increasing the risk of sea water flooding during extreme erosion events. Despite this hazard being documented in a 2003 report to Ballina Shire Council, it is not recognised in any planning documents. In particular, the State Government has not to-date published the necessary State Environmental Planning Policy (Coastal Management) 2018 Coastal Vulnerability Area Map for NSW. Recognising that planning for coastal hazards can impose additional development controls that can negatively affect development potential and land values, concerns are raised about the almost two year delay for adopting the Coastal Vulnerability Area Map and the failure to recognise as yet undeveloped coastal hazard areas.

Council’s response. None. They must be hoping that these difficult land use planning and management issues will go away.

The State Government’s response. The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment responded in April 2020 that it is the consent authority’s responsibility (i.e. usually Council) to consider risk of a coastal hazard and that Councils are responsible for identifying and managing coastal hazards. As usual with Government bureaucracies, it seems that nobody then is responsible for anything.

Download the report: SEPP_CM_2_CDNInc200309v1

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Historical 1889-2019 shoreline recession (red area) at Boundary Creek, South Ballina Beach, NSW. Green dotted lines are 2050 (33 m shoreline recession) and 2100 (83 m) vegetation line predictions.

The Cars That Ate South Ballina

This clip summarises three hours of video from the South Ballina four wheel drive (4WD) vehicle access on 6 October 2019 (enable Javascript if the player isn’t working). It’s disappointing that the Crown Lands and Water, the National Parks and Wildlife Service, NSW Police and Ballina Shire Council have not acted to control the heavy 4WD recreation pressure. This sort of activity is happening every weekend.

Major concerns are:

  • 4WDs are a nuisance and hazard to other beach users. For example, most parents wouldn’t let their kids play on a busy road. Beaches are better without vehicles.
  • 4WDs, people and domestic dogs threaten beach nesting shorebirds. South Ballina Beach is a Key Management Site for the Endangered (in NSW) Australian pied oystercatcher Haematopus longirostris.
  • 4WDs facilitate unauthorised camping on the beach and in the beach front Crown Reserve. Adventurous drivers also make unauthorised tracks in the dunes of the beach front Crown Reserve.
  • The “pet friendly” Ballina Beach Village tourist park, with “over 140 caravan and camping sites” is adjacent to the Richmond River Nature Reserve and South Ballina 4WD access. Large numbers of tourists visit South Ballina to drive on the beach.

Something to hide: coastal wetlands and littoral rainforests along South Ballina Beach, NSW

Summary. This study mapped coastal wetlands and littoral rainforests on the South Ballina peninsula, New South Wales. It was estimated that at least 173 Ha of coastal wetlands and littoral rainforests are missing from the State Environmental Planning Policy (Coastal Management) 2018 Coastal Wetlands and Littoral Rainforests Area Map. Recognising that State Environmental Planning Policy (Coastal Management) 2018 can impose additional development controls on coastal land that can negatively affect development potential and land values, as well as facilitate merits appeals against development consents, concerns are raised about the motivation for Ballina Shire Council and the New South Wales Department of Planning, Industry and Environment to apparently ignore coastal wetlands and littoral rainforests in the southern half of Ballina Shire.

Council’s response. Council responded in October 2019 that SEPP 14 (Coastal Wetlands) applied for the Lake Ainsworth foreshore redevelopment and was considered in the assessment.

The State Government’s response. The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment responded in December 2019 that the missing wetlands and littoral rainforests areas were not identified by SEPP 14 (Coastal Wetlands), SEPP 26 (Littoral Rainforests), subsequent updates or by Council. The Department indicated that it will continue to work with Council to improve the Coastal Wetlands and Littoral Rainforests Area Map.

Download the report: SEPP_CM_1_CDNInc191005v3

Download the shapefiles: SBwetlands_v1_190814

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The coloured areas along the beach front are unrecognised coastal wetlands and littoral rainforest areas.

The Coastal Defenders Network Inc. is live

The Coastal Defenders Network Inc. was incorporated in New South Wales on 25 September 2019.

The reason for starting the Coastal Defenders Network was to create a community association to defend the coastal environment from inappropriate development, over development and mismanagement. There is ‘strength in numbers’ and acting via an association can more powerful than acting individually.

Australian is a vast continent and environmental issues, regulations, etc. vary among different areas along the coastline. ‘One person can’t do everything’ and the association must grow a network of local ‘coordinators’ who oversee their own local government areas.

Do you want to get involved? Follow the Contact link above.