'Sand-bashing' visitors targeted by tougher measures
HOONS who damage North Coast beaches are being targeted by Ballina MP Tamara Smith.
Ms Smith has called for a meeting between government departments after she met with some 40 South Ballina residents to discuss concerns about reckless 4WDers who have been trashing the coastline.
It is legal to take vehicles onto the beach, but dangerous and destructive behaviour has long been a concern for some residents.
At their August meeting, Ballina Shire councillors agreed to lobby the State Government to consider a permit system or other controls for 4WDs at South Ballina.
During her visit with residents, Ms Smith said it was clear the beaches had been used for "sand-bashing".
She hopes to bring stakeholders, including the council, National Parks and Wildlife, Crown Lands, Aboriginal custodians, police and residents to discuss the matter further before Christmas.
"They're mostly Queenslanders," Ms Smith said.
"They're basically ripping up the dunes, they're creating new paths."
Sometimes, when they reach private property and can't get off the beach, they smash through farmers' fences.
Ms Smith the dune damage and rubbish left in the area was "shocking" and she urged the visitors to "have some respect".
"These are people's homes and they're farmers and people getting on with their lives," she said.
"It's dangerous. People are scared to go on the beach."
She said these 4WDers were also putting significant Aboriginal sites at risk.
"I toured some of the dune areas being destroyed by mostly Queenslanders coming down and making tracks through the dunes and it was shocking to see how much rubbish was left behind and the damage being done," she said.
"Aboriginal elders were present at the meeting as well as Jali Land Council representatives and they raised with me their deep concern for middens in the area and for endangered birds and the disrespect for the land."
Ms Smith said she believed tougher fines and stronger enforcement would help.
"It's been going on for a long time and in typical fashion government departments keep blaming each other," she said.
"As the Member for Ballina the buck stops with me."