LARNE Council has backtracked on controversial plans to ban dogs from the borough’s beaches amid a flurry of public opposition.
New laws brought into effect earlier this year as part of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2011 provided local authorities across Northern Ireland with greater enforcement powers, and Larne Council intends to introduce a number of dog control orders across the borough.
The sweeping reforms include the introduction of fixed penalties for people who take dogs into children’s play parks and playing fields.
The new laws will also give authorised officers the power to require that, when they deem it appropriate, dogs must be put on a lead.
Dogs will also be required to be on a lead at all times in graveyards.
Anyone who is detected committing an offence under the orders would receive a fine of £80, or a reduced amount of £50 if it is paid within a certain time.
The most contentious proposal, however, was that Ballygally, Carnlough, Browns Bay and Portmuck beaches would be off limits to dogs from 10am to 8pm from April to September each year.
A four-week consultation process was held on all of these dog control orders in a bid to gauge public opinion. The council has now decided to implement all of the proposals – with the exception of the ban on beaches, which was met with strong opposition from dog owners.
Minutes from Larne Council’s latest environment committee show a majority was against the move, which was dubbed “too restrictive”.
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There was also a consensus that dogs should not be excluded from beaches, but should be kept on leads instead.
As a result of this feedback from the public, the local authority has amended the proposal and is no longer seeking to ban dogs from any of the borough’s beaches.
Instead, the council wants dogs be kept on leads at Carnlough, Browns Bay and Ballygally beaches from 11am to 6pm between June 1 and August 31, and on public and Bank Holidays. Local people will once again be asked to air their views on this new proposal when it goes out for consultation.
Meanwhile, the council is also to look into the possibility of providing a safe and secure area in the borough where dogs can be exercised off the lead.