High level of engagement over vehicles on beaches

Some of the cribs on Tautuku Peninsula, just south of Papatowai, in the Catlins. The settlement...
Some of the cribs on Tautuku Peninsula, just south of Papatowai, in the Catlins. The settlement can only be reached by vehicle by driving down Tautuku Beach then crossing the Tautuku River by four-wheel-drive or tractor. PHOTO: ODT FILES
A well-intentioned bylaw proposal appears to have raised passions in Clutha.

Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan said the council’s proposed vehicles on beaches bylaw consultation process had created unexpectedly "huge" public interest since it began on May 19.

In an effort to protect wildlife such as sea lions and penguins, the draft proposal would ban vehicles altogether from eight Clutha beaches — mainly in the Catlins — with exemptions for emergency services, boat access, and access to property, such as cribs, otherwise inaccessible by road.

Vehicles on other Clutha beaches would be limited to 30kmh, and be expected to drive safely and away from wildlife.

By Tuesday this week, the council had received 514 submissions on the proposals, 78 of whose submitters wished to speak to them during hearings beginning next Thursday.

Mr Cadogan acknowledged this was a "high" number for a single issue, but welcomed the level of community engagement the proposals had triggered.

"People clearly want to have their say on the use of vehicles on beaches. The process has created huge interest to date and we look forward to continuing to engage with our communities to formulate a bylaw that reflects our district’s collective values," he said.

The eight beaches subject to the proposed ban are Taieri Mouth, Kaka Point, Cannibal Bay, Surat Bay, Jacks Bay, Purakaunui Bay, Tahakopa and Tautuku.

During a May 26 public meeting in Owaka to discuss the proposals, many present said they did not wish to see any change to current regulations.

However, some praised the council’s initiative in tabling the proposals, saying they were "well balanced", and would allow for greater protection of critically endangered wildlife with minimal inconvenience to human beach users.

Yesterday, Mr Cadogan said all options remained on the table.

"Council will consider all submissions and then make a decision on what the bylaw will look like. I encourage people to check out what is proposed and give us your feedback so we know what the feeling is in the community."

Submissions close on Monday.

The resulting bylaw, including any changes made during consultation, will come into force on January 1 next year.

richard.davison@odt.co.nz

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