Locals slam proposed vehicle ban to protect 'delicate' Marlborough coast as ludicrous

Vehicles could be banned from 45 kilometres of Marlborough coast by Christmas if a proposed council bylaw is passed.

Much of the area's seabed was uplifted by the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake which gave motorists more access to the coast, potentially endangering the ecosystem.

Craig Marfell, whose family gifted land around the beach to the Crown and doesn't support the proposed bylaw, says a total ban is ludicrous.

"There's very few vehicles come round here, now it averages three a day for quad bikes and one a week for 4x4 trucks," he tells Newshub.

The vehicle ban would stretch from the Awatere River mouth all the way around Cape Campbell and down the east coast to the Waima River. 

Vehicles would only be allowed at Marfells Beach and Ward Beach to launch boats.

Locals like Marfell say they're sharing the beach with wildlife, including seals, birds and plants, which Marlborough District Council and environmental groups want to protect with the ban.

East Coast Protection Group chair Rick Stolwerk says after the coast rose by 2-3 metres in 2016, vehicles have been able to access the beach.

"They couldn't before and they're doing a phenomenal amount of damage."

Public consultation on the proposed ban opened last week.

"We've got a different coastline and it is a delicate coastline," Marlborough District Mayor John Leggett says.

"We need to get the public [to come] along. Do we take the opportunity to protect it?"

Up until now locals, including Craig Marfell, have opted for self-imposed codes of conduct, posting signs on the beach urging users to protect it.

It's now up for the public to decide if that is enough, or if a ban on vehicles is a better way to protect the precious coastline.