NRMA faces investigation
The NRMA is facing a multi-faceted investigation of its operation of the Ocean Beach Holiday Park following allegations that it forcibly removed a semi-retired couple from public land adjacent to the park.
The Department of Lands is currently undertaking an investigation into an alleged license breach.
The investigation is understood to include an assessment of whether the park is operating on public land outside the boundaries of its leasehold both on the beachfront and at the rear of the park.
Gosford Council is conducting its own investigation.
And the Department of Environment and Climate Change is investigating claims that trees were illegally removed from rare bushland in the vicinity before Christmas.
The trees were part of Umina Coastal Sandplain Woodland, an endangered ecological community protected under the Threatened Species Act.
Ecological consultant Mr Robert Payne of Umina brought the suspected license breach to the attention of departmental officials after being removed from the area on February 7.
"My understanding of the Gosford planning maps is that this area is public reserve and set up for members of the public who wish to enjoy it.
"Why has this area all of a sudden become private property and why is the caravan park employing bouncers to physically remove people from a designated public reserve in such an aggressive manner?"
According to Mr Payne, he went for a walk with his wife and small dog along Umina Beach before exiting the beach via an access point adjacent to the Ocean Beach Holiday Park.
"Immediately we were set upon by two security guards from the caravan park, who hustled and jostled, and then caught me between two of the upright posts," Mr Payne said.
"We were very abusively told that the caravan park was now private property and no member of the public allowed to enter.
"They pointed to a number of signs saying Private Property - Do Not Enter on the access tracks leaving the beach.
"We were basically thrown out.
"This was one of the most disturbing and aggressive experiences I have had in my life," Mr Payne told Peninsula News.
Cr Terri Latella said she was shocked to hear Mr Payne was treated in such an appalling manner.
"Gosford Council is well aware of the incident at Umina involving Mr Payne and security staff of the caravan park," Cr Latella said.
"As a result we are conducting our own investigation into the matter."
A Department of Lands spokesperson stated the holiday park was leased by motoring and services company NRMA and the adjoining Crown land was managed by Gosford Council.
"The Department is aware of the alleged incident and is currently looking into the matter in consultation with the parties involved," the spokesperson said.
While the NRMA later offered an apology to the couple through Peninsula News, it defended its action.
"Ocean Beach Park Management would like to extend an apology to the couple regarding the handling of the situation by park security staff," the NRMA spokesperson said.
"As Ocean Beach Holiday Park is accessible from the beach, park staff has had to deal with many non -park residents or guests entering the park grounds over the summer.
"The incident you are seeking clarification of also involved a dog.
"Dogs are not permitted in the park grounds for safety reasons."