Hawke's Bay Regional Council moves to protect East Clive beach and its rare residents

By Victoria White -
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Banded dotterel chicks are at risk from cars on the beach.
Banded dotterel chicks are at risk from cars on the beach.

Measures to preserve the natural environment on East Clive beach are being applauded by the community.

Yesterday the Hawke's Bay Regional Council (HBRC) announced it would be taking a "hard line" on those flouting rules banning vehicles from the beach.

From next month it would increase its policing of the beach areas to try to stop people driving on the beach, and would be issue trespass notices to repeat offenders.

The Clive community was very passionate about preserving the environment, resident Kate Hinton said, so although they had not cried out for a ban, they supported these measures if they helped protect the beach.

She had conducted a survey on the community Facebook page she moderates, in which all 100 responders said they wanted to do more to protect and preserve the environment.

"This is where we live, this is our home," she said.

"That beach is our home, it's where people go for walks after work, and take their dogs.

"People are very passionate about the beach, and our community."

Vehicles had been banned from the beach since 2003, but HBRC open spaces manager Steve Cave said several people had been flouting the rules, primarily to drive to their "favoured fishing possies".

"We are receiving an increasing number of complaints from the public about people driving on the beach at East Clive. This is unfair to the many people who respect the no vehicle policy, so we believe it's time to clamp down on this," he said.

The rules had been put in place primarily to protect the significant ecological values of this stretch of coastline.

Dave Carlton from the Department of Conservation said several bird species nest directly on the shingle beach at East Clive, including the New Zealand dotterel, banded dotterel and the white-fronted tern.

Their nests were so well camouflaged they were difficult to see and were very easy to run over.

Mr Cave said HBRC would be increasing vehicle barriers, installing extra signs and changing padlocks to make it very clear that the beach was off limits to vehicles.

A recent community meeting in Clive discussed the issue and most long-time beach users, who fished at the beach, were generally in agreement, he said, however they had asked for adequate parking as close as possible to the beach entrance.

HBRC would be enforcing the no vehicles on the beach policy at the end of this whitebait season, he said.

People would get one warning before a trespass notice was issued.

Although the "hard line" could help preserve the environment, Ms Hinton said the emphasis needed to be on education.

"Rather than being told off, educate them to care," she said.

Ms Hinton said the council should be "policing the 1 per cent they need to, but not policing the 99 per cent who are just enjoying their backyard".

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