Let us see the light

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One man’s plea to balance environmental concerns with recreation at our local beach

District Council of Mallala is currently seeking community input on the proposed permanent road closure of Light Beach Road at Lower Light – but one local resident believes the road should be re-opened and the beach accessible to the public again.

The road, which has temporarily been closed on a three-yearly basis for the past six years, was first closed in 2007 and means local residents cannot access it – unless they want to hike around three-kilometres – to fish, go crabbing or swim.

Long-time Two Wells resident Malcolm Frost has spent many happy days at the beach over the past 50 years.

Mr Frost is against the permanent road closure and instead wants to see the road re-opened and the beach embraced as a public amenity and will be putting in a submission to council to that effect.

He believes the beach is one of the district’s few open beaches and council should be working toward re-opening the road in conjunction with preserving the environment, and creating a space for everyone to enjoy.

“This is the first open beach you can come to from the south end of the council area,” he said.

“Lots of people used to come here, when they could, to go crabbing, fishing for yellow-fin whiting and mullet, and having picnics, watching the sun go down over the water or just to have a barbeque.

“It’s a great place for families; it’s good for families.

“I’ve been coming here since I was seven or eight years old.”

Mr Frost said he believed the deterioration of the road and misuse of the area by off-road bikes and vehicles was the main reason the road was closed in the first place but felt environmental concerns seemed to take precedence over public use.

“A reasonable balance needs to be struck between the widely held desire to protect the coastal environment and that of maintaining and/or improving the public’s recreational amenity of the coast,” he said.

“Several measures have been taken at various locations along the coast to control, limit and exclude public access to protect the environment.

“It seems though, the drive to improve recreational amenity always has to come from the community itself, whereas there have been people specifically engaged to protect the environment.

“I’m sure there are sufficient resources available within the community that is needed to provide the necessary road development and fencing for controlled access to Light Beach. It is now time for the serious coastal recreational amenity loss to be addressed.”

Mr Frost highlighted the 2010 Light Beach Management Plan, which was compiled by the Natural Resource Management board, as reflective of environmental management taking preference over public amenity use.

“This plan provides a great guide to the intrinsic values of the environment within Light Beach’s wider area; but it places no emphasis whatsoever on the value of the beach itself to the community as a recreational resource,” he said.

“The management plan is totally biased toward the protection of the environment, which I don’t have a problem with, but I believe a consultation about what’s needed to open the beach again and protect the environment, the recreational use of the area, is what’s important to the community.”

‘Consulting’ – but council closes road for another two years

DCM chief executive officer, Charles Mansueto, said council is currently seeking casino online feedback and input from the community as part of its decision making process, to determine the level of support, or objection, to a permanent road closure of Light Beach Road at Lower Light.

Mr Mansueto said the Light Beach Management Plan highlighted the benefits the road closure has had on the vegetation at the beach and said the plan supports the continued closure and/or better management of access.

“Due to the benefits resulting from the temporary closure council is considering the permanent closure to vehicle traffic,” Mr Mansueto said.

“As permanent closure requires more time, council resolved in September to again temporarily close Light Beach Rd for a further two years and in the interim consult on the permanent closure.

“The main reasons for its closure are the impact on vegetation and the condition of the road, which is subject to tidal water flows.

“The improvement in regeneration of the vegetation is a sign closure has resulted in a better natural environment.”

Mr Mansueto said in 2010 council received legal advice suggesting opening the road again would lead to a costly upgrade to make it suitable for public access.

Three years ago, he said, it was estimated to be at least $200,000 to construct a suitable road but stated it also had no guarantees of its long-term viability due to the tidal movements and the existing base condition.

A report on this matter will be prepared for council’s consideration and written submissions are encouraged but must be received by close of business on Monday November 4.

• Information is available on the DCM website at www.mallala.sa.gov.au or contact DCM Strategic Infrastructure Coordinator, Paul Cleghorn, on 8527 0284 or email info@mallala.sa.gov.au. The current temporary road closure expires in December this year.

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