Shire planners are set to review planning for the coast amid concerns from residents about the increasing challenge of accessing the region’s drawcard beaches. Intense population growth and a boom in visitor numbers was putting pressure on limited parking options at many of the coast’s prime beaches. However the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River, as well as coastal community groups, have already flagged conservation concerns when it comes to adding more bitumen. The Shire has previously urged residents to consider riding, walking and car pooling to minimise vehicle use while admitting access was a common predicament for coastal communities across the country. Shire sustainable development and infrastructure director Nick Logan told the Times planners would re-investigate key documents, including the 2014 Cape Mentelle to Gas Bay concept plan. “The Shire’s provision of parking cannot cater for all demand every day of the year,” Mr Logan said. “Further options to increase supply are being investigated, but it will require a thorough consideration of factors such as cost, feasibility, Aboriginal heritage, environmental impact, the views of the community, and other relevant issues.” During the recent local government election, beach access emerged as a topic of debate, with candidate Melissa d’Ath investigating options for a beach bus despite such efforts proving financially unviable in the past. Ms d’Ath told the Times Margaret River Lions pledged $5000 to get the service started, but there was no response yet from the Shire. Mr Logan said public transport was a State Government responsibility. “If council decided to subsidise a service this would be at an additional cost to ratepayers and at this stage council has no plans to do this,” he said. Margaret River Coastal Residents Association president Adrian Wilson told the Times beaches needed greater investment without harming the environment. “Obviously beach access at Gnarabup is a problem with limited space and increasing demand,” he said. “The standard of infrastructure is generally poor, made difficult by an eroding coastline. “We have lobbied for more dedicated bike parking at all the beach access points to encourage non-car transport to the coast.” Those concerns were echoed by recent council candidate Reg Gillard, who lamented the state of steps and handrails that were subject to Shire work this week. Mr Gillard said competing uses between swimmers, boats and jetskis at Gnarabup in particular needed an urgent fix. “How long can this continue?” he asked. “Having a boat and jetski ramp adjacent to the most popular swimming area is an invitation for ultimately a tragic outcome.” Boat ramp conflicts were last subject to a Shire review in 2021 which led to the Prevelly Gnarabup Foreshore Management Plan.