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Just the ticket: Numberplate recognition to catch campers without beach permits

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Drivers sneaking on to a popular Queensland tourist beach without a permit will be fined when new automatic cameras begin checking every licence plate.

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Cameras are being installed at three entrances to the Cooloola Recreation Area stretching from Noosa’s North Shore to Rainbow Beach.

There will also be a mobile camera travelling with rangers.

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) compliance optimisation manager Michael Devery said people without a permit would be fined $200.

“An image is taken of each vehicle that passes those cameras and correlates whether that particular vehicle has got a vehicle access permit (VAP) issued to it,” Devery said.

“If it doesn’t, then it’s a compliance response where there’d be the mailing out of a compliance notice.”

Rangers will check the data before fines are issued.

The automatic numberplate recognition cameras will be installed at the Leisha Track near Double Island Point, Freshwater Road and Noosa North Shore third cutting entrances to Teewah Beach.

Devery said they hoped the cameras would also deter “poor visitor behaviour”.

“Often visitors will see vehicles driving in some unsafe way,” he said.

“If they make a complaint back to [QPWS] or the police about that particular vehicle then we can correlate whether that registration number was there on the day.”

He said rangers would have access to real-time monitoring of the cameras and information would be shared with police when requested.

The cameras will operate 24 hours a day.

“The compliance is relatively high but there are issues and particularly out of hours,” Devery said.

He said cameras were installed on Bribie Island a year ago and had been “highly effective” catching people who had not paid for a permit.

Since early last year, more than 160,000 VAPs have been issued across the Cooloola Coast region.

Large signs will alert four-wheel drivers before they pass the cameras that they need a permit to enter.

The camera will be turned on before Christmas Day.

– ABC / Kerrin Binnie

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