HORSES will remain on Killarney beach until at least December 20.
The combination of a slow-moving state government, a local government election, and legal requirements means Moyne Shire Council's plan to ban commercial horse training from the beach by December 1 will be delayed.
Councillors voted on Tuesday night to start community consultation on its proposal when the caretaker period ends in early November.
That process must run for 28 days, which means the matter won’t return to council until a meeting listed for December 20.
At that meeting it is expected councillors will finalise the matter – if they vote in favour of banning commercial horse training from Killarney beach, it will take effect immediately and signs would be erected as soon as possible.
Shire chief executive David Madden said Moyne Shire could have put a ban in place sooner, but had been working with stakeholders to ensure horse trainers had somewhere else to go before they were barred from Killarney beach.
“We didn’t want to stop racehorses using the beach without trying to give the industry and the state government time to find an alternate (location),” Mr Madden said.
He said the council had “been waiting on a decision from the state government” but couldn’t wait any longer.
“The busy time at Killarney beach is Christmas and after,” Mr Madden said.
Cr Mick Wolfe noted Tuesday’s vote was “not the decision on whether we will ban racehorses from the beach – it’s the necessary legal requirement that we have to go through” before that stage.
Belfast Coastal Reserve Action Group (BCRAG) spokesman Bill Yates made a presentation at Tuesday’s meeting and told the council “the community is angry and frustrated and can’t understand why it’s taken so long”.
BCRAG is hosting a community day at Killarney beach on Saturday from noon to give people a chance to “show their support for the threatened hooded plover … and fragile ecosystems of the Belfast Coastal Reserve”.