City of Albany backflips on 4WD beach ban plan after public feedback

Headshot of Sarah Makse
Sarah MakseAlbany Advertiser
Nanarup Beach.
Camera IconNanarup Beach. Credit: Laurie Benson/Albany Advertiser

The City of Albany is set to backtrack on plans to ban four-wheel-drives on Shoal Bay and Betty’s Beach North after pushback from the community.

Earlier this year, public comment opened on proposed changes to vehicle access at four beaches. It was proposed vehicles would be barred from driving on Shoal Bay and Betty’s Beach North.

Vehicles would only be allowed on Betty’s Beach South to launch boats, while Nanarup Beach West would be opened to vehicles.

The proposed changes came as part of a review of the City’s vehicle access at 19 sites, after an “increase and subsequent community concern in relation to vehicles accessing various... beaches and foreshore areas”, according to a City report.

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There are currently 30 beaches and foreshore sites that are physically accessible to vehicles within the City but only six formally prohibit vehicles.

“It was determined that as most of the changes to beach access were administrative (did not affect the current use), only those changes to beaches that affected the current use would be advertised for public comment,” the report stated.

“Recommendations have been proposed to review vehicular access permissions to better reflect current use and with an aim to reduce future conflict between multi-user groups and balance any adverse impacts on existing environmental values.”

In a City of Albany report on the recommended changes published ahead of this month’s council meeting, it was revealed that feedback from 263 people led to revised recommendations to allow access to Betty’s Beach North and Shoal Bay.

Vehicles would not be allowed on Betty’s Beach South except to launch boats, but access would remain open to the North as supported by 70 per cent of respondents.

Shoal Bay will be recommended to stay open after 85 per cent of people surveyed opposed any vehicle ban.

“There was overwhelming support for not prohibiting access to Shoal Bay, mainly due to the beach being hard and easily accessible and large enough to separate users,” the report said.

“Future planning will include some better parking and turn around areas, especially for the horse floats and trucks if it remains as a horse exercise area.”

Sixty-four per cent of respondents said they supported the City’s recommendation to allow vehicles on Nanarup Beach West.

“There was overall support for permitting vehicles with some suggestions against made around just blocking off the lagoon area to allow a safe place for families,” the recommendation said.

“This would require monitoring and further investigation.”

Councillors were set to consider the new report at Wednesday’s development and infrastructure services committee meeting.

If council supports the recommended list of changes at this month’s ordinary council meeting, the changes will be advertised for further public comment.

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