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Aussie town erupts over council plan to ban popular beach activity

Incensed locals have issued a strongly-worded message to the council over the proposed change.

A council proposal to ban vehicle access to a popular Western Australian beach has been met with backlash from locals and tourists alike who fear the move will "kill" the local town.

Lancelin, 127 kilometres north of Perth, is renowned for its pristine coastline and mountains of sand dunes. It is a popular spot for locals and tourists for four-wheel driving, trail biking and sandboarding.

That all could be about to come to an end after a recent report detailed the area's major threat of erosion, and prompted the Shire of Gingin council to put forward a ban on all vehicle access to the sand in a bid to protect the area from further impacts on the landscape.

A view of vehicles line up on Lancelin Beach. Source: Facebook.
The Shire of Gingin council has proposed banning all vehicle access to Lancelin Beach. Source: Facebook.

Though environmentalists say desperate action is needed to reverse the damages already done to the beach, and limit further deterioration, not all are impressed with the proposed rule change.

Residents fear beach ban will deter tourists

The move has been met with heated backlash in the community, with some claiming the proposition "undermines one of the most amazing draw cards" that "encourages people to visit and invest in the town in the first place."

Residents at the holiday hotspot, which is about an hour's drive from the state's capital, say they're "terrified" the ban could mean less business from tourists, and could even prompt an exodus in the area.

The Shire of Gingin argues the beach is threatened from rising sea levels and storm damage, but have flagged that no official decision has yet been made. One packed council meeting was held over the weekend, with another set to be staged in the coming days.

Lancelin's vehicle access isn't the only spot on the chopping block, with the council also eyeing similar restrictions at Ledge Point and Seabird.

Vehicles and trailers lined up on Lancelin beach. Source: Facebook.
Furious locals say the move will kill tourism in the Lancelin area. Source: Facebook.

Lancelin locals lobbying council over beach access

In a video posted to social media, many filmed themselves at the community centre as they argued that vehicle access should remain on the cards.

"I can tell you, there are a lot of very, very angry people here," one man said. "It would seem the council doesn't seem to care that this town relies on tourism," said another.

"People come up here with their four-wheel drives, they want to take their families down the beach, do a bit of four-wheel driving.

4WD groups enjoying Lancelin beach in Western Australia. Source: Facebook.
Though nothing has been officially decided yet, the response appears to be a resounding rejection of the plan. Source: Facebook.

"They come back, they buy fuel, they buy food, they go to the pub, if you take that away — and sometimes on long weekends I've seen up to 150 cars lined up along the beach — what are those families going to do?

"They're going to go to Cervantes or somewhere else where they can do this."

Yahoo News has contacted the Shire of Gingin for more information on the proposed ban but did not receive comment by time of publication.

Online, many people connected to the town have also been quick to voice their opposition to the potential ban.

"We bought a place in Lancelin recently and chose here specifically because we love the freedom of beach access, dunes etc," a woman said. "This plan seems like the Shire of Gingin is trying to undermine all of the most amazing drawcards that encourage people like us to visit and invest in the town in the first place."

"Are the Shire trying to kill Lancelin?" one man complained.

However a tiny minority of people online were sympathetic to the council's point of view.

"Some ideas have some merit, some of the measures suggested are just plain ridiculous," one man commented.

It comes as councils across the country are exploring different measures to tackle coastal erosion. In NSW, the state government in recent months pledged millions to replenish sand at two popular beaches. In Queensland, Noosa Council has stepped in to help save a "disappearing" beach as the shoreline shifts alarmingly close to homes and roads. Meanwhile in Perth, a plan to build stone groynes every 350 metres along the coastline has angered some locals.

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