Meeting to discuss proposed beach vehicle ban

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Purakaunui Beach is one of the few beaches in Dunedin vehicles are allowed to drive on, but the Department of Conservation wants to put a stop to that and the community has the chance to share their opinions at a public meeting next week.

The beach is significant as a habitat for wildlife and in terms of its importance to the local community, visitors, fishers, kayakers and surfers, all of whom are seeking a natural and quiet environment.

Doc says the presence of vehicles on Purakaunui Beach conflicts with its natural quietness, and vehicle tracks sometimes led to campfires, toilet waste and other evidence of overnight camping.

To help maintain the natural environment, Doc is proposing to build a barrier to stop people driving on the beach, a move West Harbour Community Board chairman Steve Walker agrees with.

Mr Walker said he personally thought it was a great idea to install the barrier, as “it seems extraordinary you’d want to put wildlife at risk”.

Mr Walker said allowing vehicles on to the beach led to other issues such as people leaving rubbish, including broken glass, on the beach and creating an unsafe environment.

It seemed common sense that vehicles should not be allowed on beaches in New Zealand, he said.

The community is invited to a public forum at Purakaunui School from 5.30pm-6.30pm on November 14.

The forum will be facilitated by Doc and Mr Walker.