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Nesting banded dotterels and special coastal daisies will have better protection thanks to a new planned bylaw banning driving on a large stretch of Marlborough's coastline affected by uplift after the Kaikōura earthquake.

The Marlborough District Council voted today to pursue a bylaw banning driving on beaches between the Awatere River mouth (or Lake Grassmere) and the Waima/Ure River mouth. 

“There’s a growing realisation that with all the threats our plants and animals face – especially shorebirds – driving on threatened environments is no longer acceptable,” says Forest & Bird’s top of the south regional manger Debs Martin.

“In some places around New Zealand that means preventing vehicles from accessing sections of beach.

“Along the coast, including Cape Campbell, we’ve still got areas of original dune vegetation, including one of New Zealand’s best populations of coastal mat daisy. These special plants are vulnerable to being crushed.

“We’ve also got threatened birds such as banded dotterel in well-camouflaged nests just over the high water mark. It’s so easy for their eggs to be crushed by a vehicle.

At its meeting today the Marlborough District Council Planning, Finance & Community Committee unanimously passed option one, which was recommended by staff. This is a decision to initiate a bylaw to stop vehicles driving on this stretch of coastline, except for boat launch sites.

Pictures of the area are available here.

Marlborough’s East Coast Technical Report, produced earlier this year, said that driving was crushing special plants and likely killing or injuring birds, lizards and invertebrates.

“This has been a long time coming,” says Ms Martin. “Stakeholders have been in the room for two years, voluntary measures have been tried and haven’t worked. It’s absolutely fantastic that council acknowledges this is the time for action.

"I really want to acknowledge the East Coast Protection Group, who have been tireless in working to resolve this issue since the earthquake.

"This also shows the huge benefit of a council actually adhering to the coastal policy statement under the Resource Management Act."

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