A Bright Future For Belfast Coast Beaches

15 November 2016

The Andrews Labor Government has developed a better approach to managing commercial horse training on beaches in the state’s far south-west.

Belfast Coastal Reserve, which encompasses a stretch of coast between Port Fairy and Warrnambool, has recently seen an increase in horse training in the area, raising issues about public safety, cultural heritage and the environment, particularly the welfare of the threatened Hooded Plover.

The Labor Government’s approach includes the introduction of a licencing system, a refined compliance regime and the building of horse training facilities. In the longer term, a Belfast Coastal Reserve Coastal Management Plan will be developed and is expected to be finalised by mid-2018.

A horse training licence will be issued to the Warrnambool Racing Club and will include:

  • Restriction of the number of horses on beaches (prescribed times and seasons)
  • Restriction of the beaches where horses are permitted
  • Cultural heritage protection
  • Protection of known Hooded Plover sites.

To meet growing demand, Warrnambool Racing Club will receive $600,000 from the Government’s Victorian Racing Industry Fund towards a new $1.2 million sand fibre training track.

The new track, coupled with the equine pool which was funded earlier this year, will mean the training facilities available at the Warrnambool Racing Club will be among some of the best in Victoria.

The conditions that will apply to the horse training licence will provide the protection required for the Hooded Plover (Thinornis cucullatus) under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee (FFG) Act and facilitate the industry’s compliance with the requirements of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act.

Quote attributable to Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio

“For the last two years, we've delivered on the things that matter most to Victorians and that includes protecting the unique environment of the Belfast Coast.”

Quote attributable to Minister for Racing Martin Pakula

“I thank the local racing industry for the spirit in which they have worked towards this solution. We’re delivering a plan to ensure racing remains a vital part of the south west and supports thousands of local jobs.”

Quote attributable to Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Natalie Hutchins

"The Belfast Coastal Reserve has significant cultural heritage that is extremely important to local indigenous communities. That's why for the last two years we have been working to protect Victoria’s cultural heritage."

Reviewed 19 August 2020

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