Minister Valli Moosa has drafted changes to the laws governing the use of 4X4s on beaches to streamline the laborious process of issuing access permits.

Minister Valli Moosa has drafted changes to the laws governing the use of 4X4s on beaches to streamline the laborious process of issuing access permits.

In terms of the new regulations five categories of vehicle users will be able to apply for permits allowing them to drive on beaches. Applications would need be submitted to the head of Marine and Coastal Management (MCM) rather than to the national minister, as was the case.

Chief director for monitoring, control and surveillance for the MCM, Shaheen Moolla, said a major reason for the amendments to the law was to streamline 4X4 regulations.

"Currently, all applications have to be decided by the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, which involves a lengthy process. There were also inconsistencies in application, and the regulations did not, for example, recognise film production companies as being able to apply for permits," the reported Moolla as saying.

The five categories, and the permit application fees, are for commercial operators (R500), tourism operators whose permits are valid for five years (R10 000) and producers of adverts, films, still photography commercial shoots and TV programmes (R5 000 per 30-day permit). Scientists conducting approved research and owners of private property that cannot be accessed via ordinary roads will receive their permits at no charge.

A separate category deals with individuals or groups wanting to establish a new boat launching site, and besides paying a R5 000 application fee, the applicants must satisfy a stringent set of conditions including how the environment will be affected and whether it would affect the socio-economic status of the area.

The applicants will also have to conduct a public information and participation process, with the entire application being scrutinised both at departmental level, and possibly also by outside experts.

Five categories of users are exempt from having to hold permits. They are for those launching boats at approved launch sites; electric vehicles used by physically disabled persons; government employees performing public duties; emergency vehicles and vehicles used by the National Sea Rescue Institute.