James Purcell launches online petition calling for Killarney beach to remain open to racehorses

James Purcell will launch his online petition on Friday. Picture: Rob Gunstone

James Purcell will launch his online petition on Friday. Picture: Rob Gunstone

KILLARNEY beach could remain open for training horses if Port Fairy-based MP James Purcell gets his way.

Mr Purcell has launched an online petition calling for the beach to remain open.

It comes a week after Mr Purcell told the Upper House of Victorian Parliament that relocating horses from Killarney beach to near the western end of the Port Fairy Golf Club was the “most stupid idea”.

Moyne Shire plans to close Killarney beach to horses from December 1 and nearby Rutledge’s Cutting would also be off limits year-round.

The intent to close the areas hastens the need to find a solution – without the beach, participants say the industry that generates $100 million annually in the south-west will be threatened.

The issue at Killarney has a domino impact on beach access across the region with Warrnambool’s Lady Bay beach closed for the three months of summer.

Last December, trainers beat a path to Killarney for the low-impact sand surface and recuperative powers of the Southern Ocean, creating safety issues for campers, tourists and beach goers.

"With a ban in place at Warrnambool and moves afoot for a ban at Killarney, there are plans to allow horses on Port Fairy's popular East Beach," Mr Purcell said.

"This is not the answer.

“Hundreds of tourists and hundreds of racehorses sharing the same stretch of sand in one of Australia's most popular tourism destinations is a recipe for disaster."

Mr Purcell, whose son Aaron is a horse trainer, will call on the Legislative Council to intervene and rule that Killarney Beach remain open to horses between February 1 and December 25 every year.

"A simple solution is to allow horses to use the water of Warrnambool's Lady Bay at set times (excluding the current shut-down period) and a designated walkway to cater for other beach users," Mr Purcell said.

"A walkway should be built at Killarney to protect the plovers but allow beach access for horses, with a shut-down period during the major tourism season. This is the most logical way to support our racing industry and cater for beach users."

The petition remains open for 14 days.

Meanwhile, Parks Victoria and Aboriginal Victoria will meet with stakeholders including Warrnambool Racing Club, Country Racing Victoria, Warrnambool City Council, Moyne Shire and Racing Victoria to the issue in Warrnambool on Friday.

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