Horses are to be prohibited from going onto the borough’s three award-winning beaches at certain times, it has emerged.
In a move echoing the recent banning of dogs from local beaches, Larne Borough Council has decided that horses are not permitted at Brown’s Bay and Carnlough beaches between 11am and 6pm from June 1 to August 31. Public and bank holidays are also excluded.
The new guidelines also state that horses are not permitted on Ballygally beach at any time.
However, the local authority has acknowledged that there would be “no enforcement provision” should someone go onto the beach with a horse during these times.
At Monday’s meeting of the environment committee, Phillip Thompson, director of environmental services, said members of the public had been enquiring about which of the borough’s beaches they could ride horses on.
Mr Thompsonindicated that no formal controls were currently in place regarding horse riding or horse droppings on local beaches, and recommended that controls be introduced to clarify the situation.
He added: “Currently, horses are taken on to all our beaches, but not frequently and mostly in the winter time.
“There are two riding schools in north Islandmagee and one in Ballycarry, but novice riders would usually be taken to beaches.
“Brown’s Bay is the one that officers get most enquiries about in relation to use by horses. In terms of ease of access, it is the best as there is a good car park, a quiet road and a gentle ramp leading to the beach.”
Mr Thompson also said there is easy access to the beach at Carnlough, but added that Ballygally was the most difficult to access because of the heavy traffic on the Coast Road and the steepness of the ramp leading down to the sand.
Ballygally is also the only one of the three beaches which has a sign saying ‘No horses’.
Councillors were also told that there is no legislation covering horse droppings, with Mr Thompson adding: “In this circumstance, we suggest that the owner of the horse decides if removal is necessary”.
At times when the restrictions do not apply, the officer said horse owners were still being asked to use their own judgment when deciding whether to take their animals on to the beach.
“For example, do not take horses onto the beach if there are many people on it, regardless of the time of day or season,” he concluded.