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Beach traffic bylaw desirable but likely to be ineffective

MAKORORI residents will be disappointed after Gisborne District Council's regulatory hearing committee was told a proposed bylaw restricting vehicles from beaches and unformed legal roads was likely to be ineffective.

Council staff, reporting back to the committee on a second day of hearings on the council's draft Traffic and Parking Bylaw 2021, said enforcement of a bylaw by the council (concerning stationary vehicles) and police (concerning moving vehicles) would be difficult and costly.

The council would likely need to resource a full-time employee to effect significant change.

Staff told the committee that issues and concerns raised by submitters were “valid and significant”.

“Council staff want the residents of Makorori to know that they have been heard, that we agree with their assessment and, above all, that action is required.”

Restricting access to the beach would require physical barriers along the state highway and Makorori road, with provision for parking and some beach access for vehicles launching boats.

Legal agreements would be required from some landowners and consultation with the wider Makorori community about restricting direct access to the beach from their properties.

Speed limits would be addressed through a new speed management plan once central government passes new legislation scheduled for November 2021.

Council officers said a Makorori master plan would consider where barriers, parking and access points for launching/retrieving boats should be located, as well as “an effective package of controls, physical, regulatory, and educative signage and advertising to protect people and the environment”.

Police, in their submission, said they would attend incidents of dangerous driving (as done under existing legislation) but simple bylaw breaches would need to be prioritised against other police work.

On day one of the hearings, Forest and Bird Gisborne chairman Grant Vincent told the committee a speed limit for vehicles would be insufficient because of the threat to beach ecosystems.

There were areas where a vehicle ban would be the best option.

Beach vehicles such as motorbikes and quad bikes were being increasingly used and presented a growing threat to beach ecosystems.

Forest and Bird was concerned as birds nested from September to February, which coincided with the camping season.

There were also concerns about insects, spiders and invertebrates.

Other submissions expressed concerns about dangerous driving, including driving at speed near other beachgoers, and excessive noise from cars and motorbikes.