02 February 2005

4x4 may make tracks in KwaZulu Natal beaches again

ALMOST 20% of Kwazulu Natal?s beaches could be used for 4x4 vehicles without causing damage to the environment, a new report has found. The report is based on a scientific mapping of the entire KZN coastline, done by the Oceanographic Research Institute (ORI).

The new finding could have implications for the use of 4x4 vehicles on the province?s beaches, where a current ban prohibits any 4x4 recreational activity.
According to Prof Rudy van der Elst, director of ORI and presenter of the report, the scientific mapping forms the first stage of a two-stage Decision Making Model.

The second stage, says Van der Elst, will consider social, economic and cultural factors, all of which could override the scientific aspect of the model. Maxwell Moss, chairperson of the national portfolio committee on environmental affairs and tourism says that he is glad to have seen the report, but a decision on its findings cannot be made yet. ?We will only be able to decide once we have returned to parliament to fully consider the issue,? said Moss.

?A total ban surely cannot continue indefinitely. It would be restrictive, unwise and to the detriment of environmental conservation,? said Rev Hawu Mbatha, chairperson of the provincial portfolio committee on arts, culture and tourism. Mbatha added that the initial ban was the start of a strategy to impose appropriate controls.

KZN minister of arts, culture and tourism, Narend Singh, said that if 20% of the province?s coastline did become available for 4x4 use, proper controls would need to be instituted to regulate it. Singh added that if access is allowed it could have positive implications for tourism to the current no-go areas. The move could also set a precedent for other coastal provinces? regulations on 4x4 beach activity.


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