Drivers caught on the beach without a permit will be slugged a $150 on-the-spot fine.
Drivers caught on the beach without a permit will be slugged a $150 on-the-spot fine. Craig Warhurst

Beach drivers beware of spot fines

NATIONAL Parks and Wildlife Rangers and the Gympie Regional Council will work together to issue on the spot fines of $150 to beach drivers who don’t have beach driving permits.

The fines will be enforced from October 17 when new beach driving fees are introduced on the Cooloola Coast.

Climate Change and Sustainability Minister Kate Jones announced in September that charges for accessing the beach from the southern side of Middle Rock and the inland Freshwater Track would cost $15 a day ($10 over the net), $25 for two to seven days, $39.35 a month or $197.20 per year.

The fees also cover Teewah Beach south of Double Island Point to the third cutting on Noosa North Shore.

Beach access from Middle Rock to Inskip Point would remain free.

Despite the fines, Ms Jones has now ruled out any compensation for business affected negatively by the introduction of beach fees, and said she will not visit the Cooloola Coast to speak to residents about her decision.

A spokesperson for Ms Jones said for the past two years the government has been listening to community concerns with in-depth consultations with community representatives, local MPs and had received 270 submissions.

“The Minister had direct representations from local MP David Gibson on behalf of Rainbow Beach businesses, which is why the one-day pass was introduced,” the spokesperson said.

Ms Jones said money raised from new beach fees will deliver improved facilities.

“These include major upgrades at Freshwater campground – and a safer environment under the new plan will ensure this holiday hot spot remains a favourite among future generations,” Ms Jones said.

Commercial operators will still be able to conduct their business on the beach, she said.

The only change will be that permits will be issued under the Recreation Areas Management Act 2006 rather than the Nature Conservation Act 1992.

“Residents and business owners who must travel through the recreation area to access their homes or work places can apply for a vehicle permit, free of charge,” Ms Jones said.

“The government already invests around $2 million a year in managing the Cooloola Section of the Great Sandy National Park.

“Funds raised through the permit system will go back into our recreational management areas, to provide new infrastructure, improve facilities and put more rangers on the ground.

“The amount raised by the new vehicle access permits will depend on visitor use, tourism trends and seasonal impacts such as weather events.

“Under a similar system on Fraser Island, around $750,000 was raised was permits last year, compared with around $8 million that was invested in management of the island by the government.”

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Last weeks of free beach driving

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