Council rules out complete beach ban

The Clutha District Council has stopped short of completely banning vehicles from beaches.

The council released a statement yesterday, saying it had adopted a vehicles on beaches bylaw which would take effect from the start of next year.

The council said it considered five options and decided to adopt a bylaw with three main rules.

When driving on beaches, people were required to do so in a way which did not threaten the safety of people, plants or native animals. Vehicles were not allowed on sand dunes, except to access the beach.

The final part of the bylaw would say vehicles were not allowed to drive above the high-water mark, except in emergencies.

Clutha District Council would work with stakeholders and may use education programmes and signs to raise awareness of these rules.

The adopted bylaw does not include any vehicle prohibited areas or safe zones.

It does though allows for safe zones to be created by a council resolution following appropriate monitoring and consultation. Monitoring may include effectiveness of existing bylaw provisions and the impacts of vehicles on human safety, wildlife and ecosystems.

The bylaw was proposed to address two main issues: the effect of vehicles on public safety and enjoyment of beaches, and adverse effects to the environmental values of the coast.

Early this year the council had called for submissions on its proposed bylaw. The bylaw would ban vehicles, including motorbikes, from eight beaches: were Taieri Mouth, Kaka Point, Cannibal Bay, Surat Bay, Jacks Bay, Purakaunui Bay, Tahakopa and Tautuku.

All beaches in the district would become subject to other provisions under the proposed bylaw. These include a 30kmh speed limit; avoiding dunes except for beach access; driving in a "courteous, appropriate, safe, and responsible manner"; and, respecting other beach users and wildlife.

The council held six, often heated, community consultation meetings. Its postal and email inboxes filled with more than 1000 submissions.