Victorian beaches belong to all of us – not to a powerful and influential industry with privileged connections. Yet up to 160 racehorses a day are set to pound along a majestic stretch of beach between Warrnambool and Port Fairy.

Commercial racehorse training in the Belfast Coastal Reserve is a risk to wildlife, community safety and cultural heritage.

While the impact may be local, there is a much bigger state-wide principal at stake. Public space used for private profit must not be tolerated – especially on our beloved beaches.

The Andrews Government and local Warrnambool City Council are handing over our beaches to the Warrnambool Racing Club, giving it almost exclusive use of significant parts of the Reserve for private profit. (Read more.)

We need Premier Daniel Andrews, the Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio, and Warrnambool City Councillors to know that there is unwavering strong opposition to this damaging use of our beautiful beaches.

But we need your help.

Since September 2018, there has been no racehorse training in the Reserve due to efforts of local community groups, state-wide and national groups. But the granting of a license to the Warrnambool Racing Club would see the horses return to plunder up and down our beaches.

Join Traditional Owners, surfers, fishers, swimmers, walkers and beach lovers across the state and tell The Premier, Environment Minister, and Warrnambool City Councillors to put an end to damaging commercial racehorse training in The Belfast Coastal Reserve – and not issue a license to the Warrnambool Racing Club.


To

Premier Daniel Andrews

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

Warrnambool City Councillors:
Cr. Tony Herbert, Mayor
Cr. Kylie Gaston
Cr. Sue Cassidy
Cr. Robert Anderson
Cr. Peter Hulin
Cr. Michael Neoh
Cr. David Owen

Victorian beaches belong to all of us – not to a powerful and influential horse racing industry.

I am deeply concerned and disappointed that the Andrews Government and local Warrnambool City Council have given special treatment to the horse racing industry, and are handing over our public beaches for private profit and damaging use.

Allowing up to 160 racehorses per day to pound along a majestic stretch of beach in the Belfast Coastal Reserve between Warrnambool and Port Fairy is a risk to wildlife, community safety and cultural heritage.

What will be next?

The south-west community has shown strong opposition to this damaging use of our beaches. Traditional Owners are concerned the racehorses could be trampling through culturally and environmentally sensitive beaches and dunes; and surfers, fishers and beachgoers fear for their safety, and ability to access and use their local beach. These concerns are also echoed by Victorians across the state.

Significantly, the Belfast Coastal Reserve is also home to a number of threatened birds, including the nationally endangered Hooded Plover (the ‘Hoodie’), and other important species such as the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Double-banded Plover, Red-capped Plover, Pied Oystercatcher, and Ruddy Turnstone. Undoubtedly, the most direct and horrific impacts of introducing this number of racehorses to this stretch of coast is the crushing of chicks and the disturbance of habitat of a state and federally-listed threatened species – in which the area is the most important non-breeding site ever recorded.

The Belfast Coastal Reserve was designated for protection of the coastline – not commercial use. This was evident when racehorse training was found to be illegal under the Warrnambool Planning Scheme – until the relevant rules were overruled or ignored by the Planning Minister.

The issuing of a license for commercial racehorses to return to the beaches will give almost exclusive use of significant parts of the Reserve to the Warrnambool Racing Club.

Already state government funding of hundreds of thousands of dollars have been granted for purpose-built facilities with a sand track and equine swimming pool.

Public space used for private profit, especially where it risks community safety and survival of our precious wildlife, must not be tolerated – especially on our beloved beaches.

I urge you to put a stop to damaging commercial racehorse training on our beaches.

Take all necessary steps to put an end commercial racehorse training in the Belfast Coastal Reserve. Do not issue the license to give the Warrnambool Racing Club use of our public beaches.

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