Laws controlling the use of 4X4s on beaches have been amended to allow physically disabled people access.

Laws controlling the use of 4X4s on beaches have been amended to allow physically disabled people access.

On Friday, the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, said some problems were encountered with the original regulations imposed about three years ago.

“One of the most pressing has been the severe limitation of access to our beaches for people with disabilities," Van Schalkwyk said.

With the new regulations, the physically disabled, as well as participants in organised fishing competitions and film crews, are able to obtain permits allowing them to drive on beaches.

The amended laws are effective immediately and a guideline document outlining the amendments and additional information can be found at the Department of Environment Affairs and Tourism website. Permits will be issued at R150 and will be valid for a maximum period of three years.

Speaking to CARtoday.com, the principal environment officer for Marine and Coastal Management, Shaun Schneier, said should a person own more than one vehicle permitted for use on beaches, "they would need to provide details for the different vehicles when applying" for the permit. Schneier said permits would be issued to the applicant rather than for the vehicle.

Physically disabled applicants are also required to obtain written proof of their disability from the National Council for Persons with Physical Disabilities.

The announcement was made to coincide with the International Day of Disabled Persons.

However, Van Schalkwyk warned that this would not spark a general lifting of the ban on 4X4s on beaches.

He said that there would be a crackdown on inland 4X4 routes, because although some routes were being managed responsibly, some riverbeds and other sensitive mountain areas were still being compromised.