CAPE TOWN - A study released by the National Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Report on Oct 8 2014 states that off-road vehicles, including quad bikes, are damaging Western Cape tourist "hot spots".
BAN ON BEACH DRIVING: The National Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Report blames off-road driving for coastal degradation on Western Cape beaches. Image: Shutterstock/ Soft Focus Photography
The study added: "The degradation of the coastal environment was clearly visible due to ORV illegal driving, as well as the disturbance of the African black oyster-catcher, which uses the coastal area as its breeding habitat."
We received many emails from readers responding to the study. Some welcomed the ban and even called for heavier fines; others believed the ban on beach driving should be lifted.
WHAT THEY SAID...
Bevleigh: “I think heavy fines should be imposed (like R5000). Signs should warn people that they will be fined and licences to drive on beaches should only be given in extreme circumstances such as sea-rescue or animal rescue. People need to know the boundaries, something sorely lacking in this country.”
Vernon Brusse: “Monitored areas should be allocated and strictly controlled. I am sure then there would be little or no illegal driving and very strict measures and fines should be levied if not adhered to - vehicle impounding for example - a rather heavy penalty but that will stop the nonsense.
Control is the issue, not a blanket ban.
Oubaas subke: “There are so many mountains to climb, surely a flat beach cannot be much of a challenge for a true off-road enthusiast?”
Sean Fenwick: “This ban has been a load of crap! Since its implementation sussel beds have been exploited illegally. It’s the same with all surf life. This never happens with fishermen who would set up far up-beach. People wouldn't pillage if law-abiding nature-lovers were there for a bit of R&R.”
BEACH-DRIVING PERMITS NEEDED
Walied Waja: “I agree to disagree. There are a lot of fishermen who love fishing at night because of a passionate hobby that we have. Today, it’s unsafe due to robberies and killings.
“We purchase our licences, pay our taxes but nothing is done to protect us or to upgrade the lightning around False Bay. As for 4x4 or off-roading on the beaches, it is wrong, which makes it difficult for us fishermen who just want to park near the beach to fish from one's bakkie to feel a bit safe at night. Maybe a law could be brought in to allow us fishermen in and around or close to the beaches without destroying anything.”
Riaan Wiese: “These are the same hooligans who refused to obey the rules when beach-driving permits were available. They, coupled with a lack of resources to enforce the rules and control access, caused the privilege of driving on the beach in a responsible manner to be taken away from all.
“I believe the public needs to be again allowed to drive on beaches, as is done in Australia. Access control must be via a permit with pricing at a level sufficient to employ trained staff, adequately equipped with vehicles and infrastructure such as access control point, to enforce rules and control access.
“I would suggest drivers do a suitable course covering proper driving behaviour as well as an appreciation of the environment end eco-system, etc. Benefits include job creation, willing participants to volunteer for collection of data for research, and more eyes to report illegal activity.
Brenda Louw: "I've been fishing all my life and in the good old days we paid a premium to drive to our fishing spots. I'm no longer a youngster and would love to have that privilege again - and I'm willing to pay for it. All we need is stricter control to keep the pipe cars etc away."
‘LET'S SHARE OUR BEACHES’
Vivid Angler: “First, my right has been taken away. I’ve been an avid shore angler in Zululand and I think I speak for all anglers who have had this right taken away. In all my time angling and driving on the beach I have never seen an angler, or for that matter a person with his family, tearing up the environment.
"The beaches should be policed to keep the riff-raff away. Why should we all suffer for some idiots who drive on our beaches that cannot control themselves behind a wheel? I make sure when I’m finished for the day that my spot is clean and nothing is left behind to damage the environment. Believe me, I know other anglers and the family communities think the same.
"I see people with canoes and ski-boats are allowed to drive on to beach in Natal. They have a picnic for the day and some don’t even launch their boat. Nothing gets said. I see it with my own eyes but I must park my vehicle at least two to three km away from where I’m allowed to fish.
“Carrying a 30kg backpack, a 10kg bait box and two to three rods is not easy. I know of anglers who have packed it in because they can no longer handle the walks with all our tackle. All I’m saying is, give us a chance put a decent size levy on beach permits, police the beach, let us all share our wonderful beaches.”
Kamal Hamdulay: I’m an avid angler and off-roader and would like to see control measures where a beach-driving permit is available.
"There are so many beautiful fishing spots that cannot be accessed because it’s too far to walk. There’s so much poaching of wild life and sea life and I believe government resources should be directed at this, not at soft targets such as anglers and off-roaders who want to enjoy the peace and calm of the ocean.
"Implement control measures with a permit system."
'IMAGINE THE TRAFFIC NUISANCE'
Harvey Walker: "About allowing 4x4's back on beaches - definitely NO. In the days when it was allowed it had already become a problem with the increase in off-road vehicle ownership. Nowadays the numbers are even greater. Imagine the traffic nuisance that would be out there now.
"No! Off-road enthusiasts can continue to pay to use private 4x4 tracks. Beach anglers should invest in a fairly inexpensive hand-trolley with over-sized soft tyres that they can use to haul their fishing tackle and other essentials along the beach to their favourite fishing spot.
"That way our children, animals and all wild life, both marine and coastal, will be a lot safer."
Mike Peila said: "No-one has brought up the fact that a large percentage, being off-readers or fisherman, are more often than not fuelled by alcohol. A cold beer in the blistering heat is welcome to most.
"You will NEVER gain control of miscreants if drunk. Our roads are a perfect example. Serious applications of the law and fines needs to be applied, impounding vehicles is great idea with a serious fine to get it released."
Do you agree with the findings in the Necer report? What can be done to curb illegal driving? Should off-road enthusiasts should be allowed to drive on beaches? Email us your thoughts and we’ll publish them on Wheels24.