FINAL BELFAST COastal reserve management plan - july 2018
The Belfast Coastal Reserve Management Plan was released in July 2018.
The plan was developed following extensive community engagement between March 2017 and March 2018, and a draft plan was open for public comment from January to March 2018. More than 800 people participated in the consultation process, including local residents, visitors to the region, key stakeholders and members affiliated with stakeholder organisations.
There were more than 400 written submissions, 400 online surveys and 250 quick poll surveys completed during this process, with all feedback carefully considered in preparing the final management plan. An independently prepared engagement summary report is available below.
Below is the Final Plan, FAQ's and the Engagement Summary Report
responses to the final coastal management plan
Media Release - Belfast Coastal Reserve Action Group
'Environment Minister Turns Vic. Beaches Into Racetracks'.
The release of the Final Management Plan for Belfast Coastal Reserve between Warrnambool and Port Fairy in Southwest Victoria represents a savage blow to the environment, wildlife and ancient cultural history.
Belfast Coastal Reserve Action Group (BCRAG) believes the actions of the state Environment Minister, Lily D’Ambrosio, to condone and licence commercial horse training in a coastal reserve is reprehensible, negligent and without precedence and represents a shameful day for the office of Environment, Energy and Climate Change.
BCRAG argues that it is outrageous that the minister responsible for the environment has effectively handed control of local, pristine beaches over to the Warrnambool Racing Club and commercial racehorse interests.
This plan defies logic and ignores science based evidence and local community concerns. The Management Plan states, “The submissions suggested that the activity was not supported by the majority of the local community and that it was damaging to the Reserve’s environmental values.” (Page 5). 60% of respondents were opposed to commercial horse training in the reserve
Bill Yates, Spokesperson for BCRAG, said. “Minister D’Ambrosio has put the blinkers on and ignored due process, good science, the threat to ancient culture and her responsibility to the environment. Commercial horse training is not dependent on coastal beaches and horses are not under threat of extinction, but Hooded Plovers and other Shorebirds that rely on the reserve for survival are.”
“The Minister claims the government has 'found the best balance' but you can’t balance extinction or desecration. A species can’t be a little bit extinct."
BCRAG believes there is little or no benefit to the community or environment from training horses in Belfast Coastal Reserve. Horses can be trained at purpose built facilities, as is done all over Australia and the world.
BCRAG has maintained from the outset that the Management Plan would be a ‘tick the box’ process, with a pre-determined outcome, to include commercial horse training in the Reserve. Fears that the Racing Minister, racing industry and vested interests would override due process, common sense, good science and protection of the environment, wildlife and cultural heritage, have now been confirmed.
END OF STATEMENT
Belfast Coastal Reserve Draft Management Plan
RESPONSES TO DRAFT MANAGEMENT PLAN
BCRAG MEDIA RELEASE - 16/1/2018
SUBMISSIONS TO THE BCR DRAFT MANAGEMENT PLAN
Parks Victoria called for submissions in response to the release of the Draft Management Plan for the Belfast Coastal Reserve that was release in January 2018.
Below are some of the submissions put forward to Parks in response to the document:
‘This is old school thinking in the 21st century. Belfast Coastal Reserve was trashed in the past by inappropriate use and activities.
After decades of degradation and abuse the Reserve was set aside in the 1980s to conserve cultural sites, wildlife and provide protection to the dunes and environment.
It is now in a state of recovery, thanks largely to the work of community groups.
This plan expects ordinary beach users and community to make a sacrifice so the racing industry can have get its way.
Hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars have been gifted to Warrnambool Racing Club for new facilities so there is no need for trainers to rely on the beaches and dunes of the reserve.
Daniel Andrews, this is not right and it is not fair.’
Bill Yates - BCRAG
MEDIA RELEASE - Tuesday 16 January 2018 - for immediate publication
ANDREWS GOVERNMENT BACKS RACEHORSES – COMMUNITY AND ENVIRONMENT LOSE.
“In releasing the Draft Belfast Coastal Reserve Management Plan, the Andrews government has squandered the opportunity for sensible management of South-West Victoria’s most precious tourism, recreation and nature conservation assets – its beaches – and put them at mercy behind the screens of the horse racing industry.” says spokesperson Bill Yates on behalf of the Belfast Coastal Reserve Action Group. (BCRAG)
“The government is requesting beach goers, dog walkers, anglers, surfers, even recreational horse riders accept being the 'collateral damage' for an appalling expansion of racehorse training areas and numbers - not on a race track or vacant paddock - but on all the long stretches of beach from Warrnambool to Port Fairy.”
The proposal will allow industrial scale racehorse training, monopolising public car parks and popular beaches between Warrnambool and Port Fairy including East Beach, Killarney Beach, the Cutting and Levys Point. This high-speed track work by up to 50 horses a day effectively bars everyday beach-goers from these areas for fear of ugly confrontations... or worse. ‘It may well become a necessity to check horse training times as well as the tide chart before visiting your favourite beach’
“The Belfast Coastal Reserve Management Plan is a throwback to olden days when the coast was a cheap piece of wasteland to be exploited: when cars, rubbish tips, quarries, and knackeries were permitted on foreshores and wetlands without any thought for the future, which communities now have to live with. Just as there are now appropriate and sustainable places for cars, tips, quarries and knackeries, so too racehorse training should be conducted at enclosed facilities away from people, wildlife and sensitive areas.” says Yates.
This Management Plan for crown land expects compromise from the community and the environment while giving top priority to the racing industry. ‘That’s fine at a racecourse, but not on land reserved for conservation and public recreation. Recently, hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars were given to Warrnambool Racing Club to upgrade its facilities to reduce the need for trainers to use local beaches’
The plan completely sidelines the present generation of South-West Victorian residents, from surfers to sea-changers who appreciate the wild and intact landscape for nature, rest and relaxation. In the future, residents will shake their heads in bewilderment at any decision to hand over this precious jewel of public land to the horse racing industry for a training track.
BCRAG requests the Andrews government reconsider before it’s too late.
Concerned beachgoers should provide feedback on the plan ASAP.
BELFAST COASTAL RESERVE ACTION GROUP
Contact: Bill Yates