COMMERCIAL racehorse training will remain in the Belfast Coastal Reserve after the release of a management plan for the zone.
The plan restricts commercial racehorse training to Levy’s Beach and Hoon Hill.
Access for horse trainers to Golfies, east of Port Fairy, has been taken away.
Access will be available at Rutledges Cutting and the main Killarney Beach for local trainers who have historically used the reserve. This training is to be done on the waterline.
While zones have been approved, each carries its own set of restrictions.
Horses on Levy’s Beach must not go within 5 metres of the base of dunes at any time and must slow to walking pace when within 20 metres of other beach users.
Trainers must not have a group with more than six horses at a time and all horse faeces must be removed.
Horse training is permitted on weekdays from first light to 11am, all year round, at both Levy’s Beach and Hoon Hill. A maximum of 120 horses per day will be permitted to train on Levy’s Beach with 40 horses permitted to access Hoon Hill via Levys Beach on a daily basis.
At Rutledges Cutting, horse training is permitted from April 1 to July 31 on weekdays from first light to 11am, Monday to Friday. A maximum of 15 horses per day will be allowed on the beach with no more than four horses at one time.
The Killarney Beach zone will start at the boat ramp and reach 800 metres west.
Training will be allowed from February 1 to December 15 from sunrise to 10am.
A maximum of 10 horses, six on the beach and four in the water, will be permitted at any one time.
The management plan includes a conservation zone which begins at Pelicans, just east of the main Killarney Beach, to Hoon Hill. The zone extends five metres seaward from the base of the dunes.
Dogs are permitted on a leash in this zone and recreational horses also have access, although they must stay inside the waterline.
A recreation and conservation zone runs from the far western end of the reserve to Pelicans and then from Hoon Hill to the eastern end of the reserve. It includes the waterline.
Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio, said the plan was the product of extensive consultation.
“It balances the range of views on how to best protect the Belfast coast,” she said.
“The Belfast coast is home to rare species of birds, that’s why it’s important to restrict commercial horses training and dogs off leashes.”
Minister for Racing Martin Pakula said the plan ensures the future of racing and training in the south-west while protecting the environment.
PURCELL BACKS PLAN
MEMBER for Western Victoria James Purcell has lauded the new Belfast Coastal Reserve management plan.
Mr Purcell said the plan strikes a balance between conservation, recreation and commercial horse training on beaches.
“Very early on I presented a proposal for horse training that nominated Levy’s Beach as the best option for horse training,” Mr Purcell said.
“I'm pleased our calls for community consultation were heard and that the plan incorporates community feedback and allows access for small family horse trainers, recreational horse riders and dog owners.
“This plan addresses conservation and community concerns and allows for fair use of the reserve.”
More than 800 people took part in the community consultation process regarding the development of the plan.
This included residents, councils, environment groups and the racing industry.
Mr Purcell said a draft plan released earlier this year was too restrictive and hadn't had enough stakeholder input to make the conditions acceptable to the community.
"Now we have a plan that each group can get behind, I think this is a great outcome for the area," he said.
"There are careful horse training licence conditions that will limit the numbers of horses and the possible conflicts with beach nesting birds," said Mr Purcell.
The conditions of new Warrnambool Racing Club licences to train in the restricted areas of the Belfast Coastal Reserve will be finalised in the coming weeks.
Information sessions on the plan will be held at Port Fairy on August 21 and in Warrnambool on August 22.
The new management plan has a lifespan of 15 years.