Moves by commercial surf schools to expand their operations at Seven Mile Beach is facing strong opposition from community groups and beach users.
Gerroa Community Association spokesperson and committee member Roy Schmidt is concerned the surf school proprietors will still expect to be able to "pick the eyes" out of the best parts of the beach to run their classes.
Over 1000 beach users signed a petition over the Australia Day long weekend objecting to the expansion of commercial surf schools.
It comes after three commercial surf school operators recently lodged Development Applications with Kiama Council to increase their operations at the popular beach.
Surf Camp Australia has applied for an increase in maximum allowable participant numbers from 100 to 160.
Mr Schmidt said this excessive increase was a result of the new Surf School ‘Guidelines’ policy endorsed by Kiama Council officers last October.
Surf schools will be allowed to operate in three separate zones spread down the beach.
The new ‘guidelines’ which replaced the original policy implemented in 2010, reduce Surf School Exclusion Zone 2 by 110m, and increase Surf School Zone A (west of the mouth of Crooked River), by 60m.
These changes at Seven Mile Beach have the potential to destroy the beach culture that has existed here for generations.Gerroa Community Association spokesperson Roy Schmidt
It also creates a new Surf School Zone C of 2.5 kilometres, further down the beach.
It is possible that up to nine surf schools could be licensed to operate within the three surf school zones.
Because of its convenient location, all surf schools are seeking to use the most popular section of beach adjacent to Crooked River (Surf School Zone A ), and also to use busy Rickett’s Reserve for pre-water organisation and administrative tasks.
"Surf school operations taking place in the popular sections of the beach and reserves, by their nature displace the general public," Mr Schmidt said.
"This is grossly unfair, and diminishes the amenity, particularly for families and holidaymakers.
"These changes at Seven Mile Beach have the potential to destroy the beach culture that has existed here for generations."
He added residents, beach users and petitioners did support commercial surf schools operating south-west of track 6, "where this type of activity has been operating safely for the past eight years".
"We strongly believe that the DA's should be rejected by Kiama Council and that the interim surf school 'guidelines' be revoked and replaced with new "guidelines' developed by council following extensive consultation with community representatives," Mr Schmidt said.
A Kiama Council spokesperson said since the introduction of the new Crown Lands Act, all surf schools at Seven Mile Beach were currently operating on interim permits.
"Council has asked the operators to submit development applications before it decides whether to issue new short term licences under the new Act.
"Council is currently assessing these applications against a range of social, economic and environmental factors."