Most beach access submissions are not local

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A detailed analysis of submissions to a controversial beach access consultation in South Otago found less than half were from local residents.

Clutha District Council is working through consultation on a draft by-law proposing a ban on vehicles on eight beaches in Clutha, with exemptions for emergency services, access by boat and access to properties otherwise inaccessible by road.

Vehicles elsewhere would be limited to 30 km/h and should be driven safely and away from wildlife.

In hearings late last month, 47 people spoke about their observations.

At its meeting in Balclutha today, the Council’s Regulation and Policy Committee will consider a total of 725 unique written submissions.

Of these, only 343 (47%) were submitted by self-identified Clutha residents.

Some of those who spoke about their memoirs last month expressed concern that non-residents might be able to sway the outcome of a settlement broadly affecting local beach users.

However, during the hearings, Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan said each submission would be weighted according to the identity and location of the author, and the uniqueness of its content.

An analysis of submissions prepared by the council’s senior policy adviser, Mike Goldsmith, shows that 90 submissions – not included in the total of 725 – were copies of one prepared by Catlins resident Marilyn Dunn.

During the hearings, Ms Dunn spoke out against any vehicle bans on Kaka Point beach.

The council also received 108 incomplete submissions, including only name and address.

Of the 382 submissions received from non-residents of Clutha, the largest number – 129 (18%) – were from residents of Dunedin, followed by Invercargill (32; 4%), Auckland (24; 3%) and of Gore (22; 3%).

During the hearings, some residents of Taieri Mouth expressed concern about an increase in the number of Dunedin residents using vehicles on the settlement beach, following the introduction of a similar beach settlement at Dunedin in 2018.

The report also provides a breakdown of common themes among the submissions.

The two areas of greatest concern were the protection of wildlife and the natural environment (53 respondents); and that other traditional beach activities using vehicles should be included in any new regulations (48 respondents).

These figures reflect the themes raised during the hearings.

Council will adopt the resulting new by-law on September 15, which will come into effect on January 1, 2023.

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