The Warrnambool Planning and Heritage Group says the council’s decision to amend its planning scheme to allow horse training at Levys and Spookys beaches sets “a dangerous and shocking precedent”.
Secretary Julie Eagles said any changes should have followed “due process, which includes time for community submissions and a panel hearing to reach a proper conclusion based on all inputs to the process”.
“Why is due process being bypassed?” she asked.
“Good planning should not bring users into conflict. Allowing large numbers of racehorses to train on any of our beaches causes significant safety issues for a start. These beautiful, very large creatures thundering up the beach are not compatible with surfers, fishermen, walkers, and families using the beach for recreation.
“This fast tracking by state government has local impacts – there should be time for other voices to be heard beyond the racing industry and those at the council table.”
Ms Eagles said the effects of four wheel drives, motor bikes and other activities at Spookys beach showed the end result of “unrestricted and ignorant human misuse” of the coast.
“To consider adding more licence to destroy is terrible,” she said.
“And that further destruction of our public land is being allowed for the benefit of wealthy racehorse trainers to increase their wealth.
“The planning minister’s proposal to move quickly to change the Warrnambool Planning Scheme compromises local strategies and policies in order to favour the racing industry. This is precisely the way that our community trust in government gets further and further eroded.”