MOYNE Shire will meet with Parks Victoria and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) to address the vexed issue of racehorse training on Killarney Beach.
The council received 12 complaints about the practice between November 2015 and February 2016 and councillors recently visited the beach to see the situation for themselves.
The complaints relate to concerns about horses being in close proximity to other beach users, smell from excrement, the effect on the beach ecosystem, and horse floats and trucks occupying the car park.
Cr Kelvin Goodall said the council could “only act as an advocate”, with an officer’s report noting “much of Killarney Beach is excluded from the area” the shire manages and “is managed by Parks Victoria”.
Cr Jill Parker noted it was a tricky issue, particularly in the wake of trainer Darren Weir’s Melbourne Cup success last year, which he partly attributed to training horses at the beach.
“Consequently more trainers are interested in similar activities (and) more trainers are looking to relocate to Moyne Shire,” Cr Parker said, noting the economic spin-offs.
While beach-goers have complained about safety concerns, public amenity and environmental impacts, the South West Owners & Trainers Association aired their side of the issue at a meeting last month.
They said the Killarney-Illowa area was proving popular with trainers, with three planning permits for stables and training establishments issued in the past four years in the region.
“One trainer present at the meeting stated he was on the verge of making a considerable investment in a training facility in the area and this would be compromised if he did not have access to the beach,” a Moyne Shire officer’s report stated.
Representatives of the owners and trainers association said Killarney Beach was popular for horses because of access.
“While the existing car parks struggle to accommodate all the horse floats (and) horse trucks as well as cars and boat trailers used by other beach users, they are the only ones in the region capable of accommodating multiple horse floats and trucks,” the shire report said.
Council officers reported they had seen “up to 12 horse trucks and floats using all of the available car parking at the beach”, making it impossible for other users to access the area.
No date is set for the council to meet Parks and DELWP.