Fishers spit chips over 4WD track closure

FISHERMEN who are losing a four-wheel-drive path on Angels Beach in Ballina hope to make a last ditch effort to save their right to access before the local election.

A new shared walking and cycling path being built along the coastline will intersect the existing four-wheel-drive track anglers have used for decades.

With pedestrians and cyclists about to hit the new $6.7 million trail, Ballina Shire Mayor David Wright says the chance of someone being hit by a four-wheel drive is too high to risk.

"They can still access the track from the next beach, it's just not going to be as easy," Cr Wright said.

"There was a great deal of talk years ago about not allowing any four-wheel drives on the beaches, but we resolved to have permits and that's been working well.

"We're not putting up walls or anything; we're just putting a path across it."

Water Access to Encourage Recreation president Denis Magnay, a self-professed "mad fisherman", argues shutting down four-wheel-drive access was an overreaction.

He was planning a final push to have council's decision overturned before the local election in September.

"We've agreed to ban four-wheel drives on two other beaches near it because they are really popular with people walking on them," Mr Magnay said.

"Angels Beach is popular but not that popular, so we've agreed to only go down in our four-wheel drives at night time.

"Now they want to block that.

"The only people down there at night are fishermen. Everyone else has gone home."

Mr Magnay believed the council's current stance was in breach of the plan of management covering the shire's public lands.

"The next council meeting will be crucial for us. It's the last one before the election," he said.

"I've heard on the grapevine that the next thing the greenies are going to claim is that we're likely to run over turtles.

"Well, you see about one turtle down there every five years."

Cr Wright said provisions might be made to allow access to the track through a locked gate for emergencies such as surf rescues. -ARM NEWSDESK

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