February 10 - 16, 2019: Issue 393


Palm Beach Protection Group launch Supporters invited: Saturday Feb.16th  

residents are saying 'NO' to off-leash dogs in station beach eco-system

Although a Trial has not commenced, nor consultation period finished, residents of Waratah street, the Palm Beach street fronting the southern end of Station Beach on the Pittwater estuary, as well as from surrounding streets, report over 50 off-leash dogs have been on the ‘no dogs’ beach, every single day, from 6 am and all day long – and especially on weekends, throughout December and January.

One resident witnessed a lady with six off-leash dogs barking in her car drive up just after dawn and let them all go.

Dawn is when wildlife is either waking up or going to bed if nocturnal.

Waratah street has become a traffic jam, with no suitable parking on the once quiet street or the adjacent Barrenjoey road. 

Residents are finding dog faeces being left on the sand with one gentleman, on being approached, replying that he was not going to clean it up as ‘the tide will wash it out’.

Native Birds are being chased by dogs and bitten. The small blue Soldier crabs that come out at dawn and dusk are being killed. The seagrass meadows are being torn up.

Other people who used to frequent the beach with their little children are now going elsewhere, with one resident witnessing a family taking their toddlers down for their usual 7 a.m. swim being literally chased from the beach by dogs. 

Small children have been rushed at by large dogs, and jumped on – more than a few times now. Some are now traumatised, and may be scared of dogs for the rest of their lives. 

Two women in the water swimming were also approached by a pair of chocolate Labradors swimming out and onto them. 

“Their owner did nothing to stop them and didn’t seem to think this was a problem.” A resident stated.

Dogs are also reported to be outside the ‘trial area’ at all times – going beyond the Beach House structure towards the dunes and headland where other fauna lives, as well as to the southern extremity of the beach.

One resident stated there has been an advocate from a local off-leash dog activist group on the beach every morning with her pooch encouraging others to bring their dogs, off-leash, to the beach as well.

“This person is promoting Station Beach as though it is an off-leash dog area already.”

“We’re all dog lovers. Unfortunately we’re seeing dogs running into private property and onto the golf course, dogs almost being killed running into the roads and owners who seem oblivious of how to look after them or shrugging it off as though that’s acceptable behaviour.” One resident stated

“We’re scared one of them will cause a car accident or a dog or a dog owner will be killed.” Another added

Station Beach is the only remaining Pittwater estuarine beach on the eastern seaboard without structures along its perimeter. Thousands of visitors and residents enjoy the stroll along the ‘Summer Bay’ beach leading into Barrenjoey Headland National Park or being able to access a safe-water beach for youngsters year round, especially during the warmer months.

That has not been the case this Summer.

The Palm Beach Whale Beach Association, which has in its Constitution it exists ‘to protect the environmental quality and residential amenity of residents’ according to one attendee of the meeting, was quick to submit a letter of support for Station Beach becoming an off-leash dog area, sending in a submission that would appear, on face value, to state it represents all its membership. *

The letter, dated December 3rd 2018, just hours after the ‘have your say’ consultation commenced, was loaded onto the PBWBA website – for members to access and read it would seem. That ‘support’ has, in fact, caused some members to resign their membership, while others have communicated to Pittwater Online that this missive certainly does not speak for them.

At a meeting on Friday February 8th, residents who are not PBWBA members and those who have resigned from the association in disgust since December 3rd, shared what they have experienced and witnessed since the ‘consultation’ commenced.

The upshot of their discussions is the Palm Beach Protection Group will be launched this week – on Saturday February 16th, at 10 a.m., on Station Beach. 

The PBPG focus will be on keeping other areas along the beaches pristine as much as ensuring the degradation of Station Beach currently occurring, the loss of that area as a safe place for all (the other 99%), as well as its fauna, is resolved.

“We have a responsibility to ensure visitors and those who live here get to experience this very special place as it is, just as we have.” one resident explained.

“We have to take responsibility for the preservation of these pristine areas for the next generation. We also have to look after our children, right now."

“The unintended consequence of allowing so many uncontrolled dogs into just one small area, as has been found elsewhere, is these places are turned into ‘dog faeces pots’. People end up getting sick visiting them or in this case, going into the water. There are, on record, instances of people getting infections, bad ones, from this kind of degradation of an area.

“There is signage in place here but clearly ‘self-regulation’ is not working. People are ignoring these, or even encouraging others to suit themselves – as they do elsewhere - which doesn’t bode well for what will occur and can be instanced in what is occurring right now.

The residents group states there are also a few problems with the consultation itself, in that there has been what is termed ‘Failure of Process’ in the documents provided to comment on, the absence of a current REF as one example, and there are also aspects where the potential for ‘actionable negligence’ may apply if a visitor or resident experiences some of what has already occurred on this very public and long known to be a BIG tourist attraction beach.

“Rates will go up to pay for court cases and settlements.” one ex-PBWBA member explained.

“We already have more off-leash dog areas in Pittwater than the rest of the northern beaches – areas locked off from the rest of those living here through fencing or through the actions and attitudes of irresponsible pet owners. 

“Dog parks are not even good places for dogs. There have been numerous studies that have illustrated that. They may be good for the good owners to have social contact – but they are not great for the dogs themselves. Dogs attack other dogs, and once they have done that a first time, it is likely they will again – only next time, it’s worse.

Many in the residents’ group could not understand why areas where the damage to the environment and its resident wildlife, and the thousands who visit, year round, would not have such an impact had not been considered as more sensible alternatives. They stated ‘access, parking and fencing’ was the reason some were vetoed, while the surf being surf when still water is more suitable for ‘dem paws’ vetoed others.

“But this is just an even more ill-thought out idea.”**

A website has been set up by The Palm Beach Protection Group for more information, as well as a Facebook page.

"We encourage supporters who want to protect the pristine eco-system of Palm Beach to join us at Station Beach, on the Pittwater side of Palm Beach at 10am on Saturday 16 February."

For more information visit: protectpalmbeach.com.au


* This article was corrected on February 20th. The PBWNA Constitution [2015] currently states: 
Objective (1A)
The objective of the association is to preserve and enhance the natural beauty of the area and to protect the local amenity by promoting proper planning of all developments and by expressing positively, in appropriate quarters, the views of residents. 
** NB: The names of those whose statements are above cannot be provided as people in this area have been experiencing ‘stalking and aggressive trolling’ by expressing a viewpoint that differs from the off-leash activists agenda. 
More ‘actionable negligence’ averted! 😊

Worth Knowing: Pittwater Areas set aside as dog parks

1. McCarrs Creek Reserve
McCarrs Creek Reserve is a trial off-lead dog area from Monday to Friday in the signposted area which is west of the main access road into the reserve.

2. Mackerel Beach
Dogs are permitted off-leash under effective control between the Wharf and the most northerly house between 6:30am-9:30am and 5pm-sunset. At all other times dogs must be leashed when moving between boats and houses. Dogs are not permitted below the high tide mark or in the water.
The designated OFF leash area is to the north of Careel Bay playing fields. (Dogs MUST be on leash through Hitchcock Park).

3. Rowland Reserve, Bayview
Water access for your dog is available at this reserve. Please note dogs are not on permitted on any other beach at any time unless sign posted.

4. South Mona Vale Headland (Robert Dunn Reserve)
Facilities; dog waste bin, lookout, unleashed dogs

5. Dearin Reserve, Newport
Parking, Dog Waste Bin, unleashed dogs

6. Deep Creek Reserve
Dogs can only be unleashed when conducting dog training sessions within the fenced areas.  At all other times dogs must be leashed.  Dogs are not permitted over the bridge 

7. *Avalon Beach Reserve (north-western section) – Fenced off – has been on trial – re-consult currently occurring. 

The light-blue soldier crab, Mictyris longicarpus