THE first task of the new-look Moyne Shire Council is likely to be talking to the community about a proposal to ban horse trainers from Killarney beach.
The current council will meet one last time on Tuesday and vote on whether to “commence a public consultation process … immediately following the cessation of the election caretaker period” on plans to bar horses from Killarney beach in time for summer.
A report to council by shire environment and regulatory services manager Robert Gibson stated that because of the caretaker period “even a ‘fast track’ approach would not see controls implemented until after December 1”.
“Commencing a community consultation process to prohibit commercial race horse training from Killarney beach should commence as soon as possible as delays will lead to conflict and potential injury to beachgoers over the summer months,” the report states, adding a consultation process cannot commence until the caretaker period is concluded.
Horses have been banned from Levys Point sand dunes already and will not be allowed on Warrnambool’s main beach from December 1.
Moyne Shire has been working with stakeholders – including Parks Victoria, Warrnambool City Council, the Belfast Coastal Reserve Action Group, the South West Owners and Trainers Association, and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning – since March to achieve an outcome that satisfies all parties.
Member for Western Victoria James Purcell, whose son is a horse trainer, and former Premier and ex-racing minister Denis Napthine have queried the process so far and agitated for a horse-friendly solution.
The state government recently appointed a co-ordinator to assist with the matter.
BirdLife Australia and the Victorian National Parks Association (VNPA) have also joined the call to end commercial horse training in the Belfast Coastal Reserve as it was jeopardising threatened birds such as hooded plovers.
“Highly-strung racehorses pounding up and down the beach are intimidating local beachgoers, risking the safety of the general public and putting threatened species at risk,” VNPA project manager Chris Smyth said.
“(Horse) have no place in sensitive conservation areas that are supposed to protect some of our most threatened bird life.”