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Horses in Lady Bay

Balanced response to horses on beaches

News Article Date: 
Friday, 18 November 2016

Warrnambool City Council has acknowledged the efforts of the State Government in working on a balanced solution to issues around access to South West beaches by the racing industry.

The use of beaches along the Belfast Coastal Reserve between Warrnambool and Port Fairy by horse trainers has increased significantly over the past two years.

This raised concerns over the environmental impact, impacts on other beach users including swimmers, surfers and walkers, and impacts on indigenous cultural heritage.

A series of meetings to resolve these issues were held and involved representatives from relevant State Government departments, Moyne and Warrnambool councils and the racing industry.

Following these meetings the State Government announced it would introduce a licencing system, a refined compliance regime and the building of horse training facilities.

“I’d like also to acknowledge the work of the Moyne Shire, in particular Cr Colin Ryan, who sought to arrive at a balance that would resolve the challenges that had arisen as a result of the region’s beaches being used for recreation and for horse training,” Warrnambool Mayor Cr Kylie Gaston said.

“It’s great to have clarity around shared use of the beach and it’s an encouraging outcome for the environment and for the horse racing industry which contributes about $80 million to the Great South Coast economy.”

The State Government also announced that a Belfast Coastal Reserve Coastal Management Plan would be developed and this was expected to be finalised by mid-2018.

A horse training licence will be issued to the Warrnambool Racing Club and will include:

  • Restriction of the number of horses on beaches (prescribed times and seasons)
  • Restriction of the beaches where horses are permitted
  • Cultural heritage protection
  • Protection of known Hooded Plover sites.

The State Government has said it would provide the Warrnambool Racing Club with $600,000 from the Government’s Victorian Racing Industry Fund towards a new $1.2 million sand fibre training track.

The new arrangements will provide better protection for the Hooded Plover (Thinornis cucullatus) which breeds along the Belfast Coastal Reserve.

Horses are not permitted on the beach at Lady Bay between the Breakwater and the Surf Club over summer although early morning swimming is permitted.

Council continues to work with the horse racing industry to address issues around parking and safety at Lady Bay.

Horse access to Levys Beach remains restricted while investigations into the indigenous cultural heritage of the site continue.

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