Whose Beach is it anyway?

Nigel Cartlidge

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The public right to access the beaches in many places is frustrated by those who have no interest in sharing the benefits of their beach with others. Beach precincts around the world are the setting for a protracted conflict between public and private control of access to the natural environment of the beach. This conflict sees private individuals and corporate interests that own foreshore properties seeking to extend that ownership to deny or restrict access to the beach. Foreshore property owners have, in many places, used various urban design and development devices to effectively control the conditions for beach access and use. Their intent is to enjoy as exclusive a right to the benefits of the beach as is possible. Governments have sought to regulate public access to beaches through various iterations of Coastal Zone Management by regulation, law, policies and planning controls around the world. Private interests, however, have proven adept at circumventing the intent of these plans and policies. They are assisted in subverting plans and policies by conflict between the different levels of governments. Local politicians and government officials often undermine the political positions of higher level policies that assert the right of the public to enjoy the beach from the land or the water. This research used a Google™ alert for „public access to beaches‟ to analyse the discourse over the issues surrounding beach access. It reveals that although the narrative varies in each country, the central issues remain the same. The strategies, positions and myths of the active players reveal a story that is fluid and changing, motivated by self-interest, aversion, greed and profit and sometimes by altruism and the notion of the public good.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTowards Liveable Cities and Better Communities
EditorsJohn Taplin
Place of PublicationPerth, Australia
PublisherSmart Vision International
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jun 2011


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