State Government ramps up efforts to resolve beach access issues for south-west horse trainers

Horses train on Warrnambool's main beach on Wednesday. Picture: Rob Gunstone

Horses train on Warrnambool's main beach on Wednesday. Picture: Rob Gunstone

THE state government is ramping up efforts to resolve beach access issues for south-west horse trainers before the end of the year.

In a statement late on Thursday, three government ministers revealed they had appointed a co-ordinator to facilitate a resolution. 

Environment Minister Lily D'Ambrosio, Racing Minister Martin Pakula and Aboriginal Affairs minister Natalie Hutchins have tasked Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning regional director Helen Vaughan to resolve the issue on behalf of the government.

They said they had been co-ordinating stakeholder meetings on beach access for horses in the region and the talks would intensify over the next fortnight.

The announcement comes three days after former premier Denis Napthine launched a stinging attack on Mr Pakula over his handling of the issue.

Horses, who train on the low-impact surfaces of south-west beaches, have been banned from Levys Point sand dunes and will not be allowed on Warrnambool’s main beach from December 1.

The ministers have asked Ms Vaughan to undertake the role due to the many parties involved.

“Resolving this issue will require the cooperation of Parks Victoria, Aboriginal Victoria, the City of Warrnambool, Moyne Shire, Racing Victoria, South West Owners, Trainers and Riders Association and the Warrnambool Racing Club,” Ms Ambrosio said.

“Ms Vaughan's efforts to bring all those parties together will be vital."

Mr Pakula believed a solution would be forthcoming. 

"Warrnambool Racing Club chief executive Peter Downs indicated this week that he was confident that a way forward would be found by the end of the year,” he said.

“I agree with him and I believe that is an achievable time frame."

Ms Hutchins said the protection of cultural heritage was extremely important to the region’s indigenous communities.

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