NEW restrictions around beach access at Corindi Beach, Woolgoolga Beach, Hearnes Lake Beach, Sandy Beach and Boambee Beach are the noticeable changes to where four-wheel-drives can and can't hit the sand nowadays.
Coffs Harbour councillors have adopted new "Vehicles on Beaches" guidelines, which seeks to serve as a balance between public safety, recreation and environmental protection.
There have been long-held concerns by community members over the environmental impacts of 4WDs on beaches, the council said.
"Beaches are highly valued by both the local community of Coffs Harbour and the many visitors to our region," Mick Raby, the council's director of sustainable infrastructure said.
"They are a significant driver of tourism for the region and support a wide range of recreational activities, including fishing. At the same time, beaches and their dunes are also vital ecological habitats to a variety of native flora and fauna, as well as offering protection from coastal erosion processes." Concerns include damage to dunes and the impacts on minute organisms in the sand, the risks to endangered little tern colonies, breeding turtles and shore birds. There have also been safety concerns for other beach users as coastal suburb populations grow.
The adopted policy is the result of a community survey carried out in January and February last year that attracted 365 responses and consultation with key stakeholders such as fishing and 4WD clubs, professional fishermen and relevant NSW Government bodies.
"We believe this policy represents...