The rules around dog exercise areas on the Kempsey region’s beaches will be clearer thanks to new mapping and updated off-leash dog areas from October.
Kempsey Shire Council said it had been working with key stakeholders including animal groups and state government bodies such as the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Services, while also running an extensive community consultation on the issue.
It says based on that consultation, Council staff made recommendations to improve and streamline the rules surrounding dogs in public spaces, including off-leash exercise areas.
At its June meeting, Council resolved to adopt new off-leash zones outlined for Hat Head, South West Rocks, Grassy Head and Killick Beach at Crescent Head.
Kempsey Shire Council Mayor, Liz Campbell said the outcome was a reasonable balance for dog walkers and beachgoers across the shire.
“Clarity on the rules for dog walking on our beaches represents a fantastic step forward for Council in working with dog owners, while taking on board the clear messaging provided from our community on how they would like to resolve this topic,” said Mayor Campbell.
New signage will be installed at Hat Head, South West Rocks, Crescent Head and Grassy Head as the new access arrangements change. New mapping for the Shire and educational material will also be made available via Council’s website and brochures.
The roll out of changes will begin with Crescent Head, followed by South West Rocks, then Hat Head and Grassy Head. Additional new signage will be installed across the remainder of the shire through an ongoing process.
Kempsey Shire General Manager, Craig Milburn emphasised the responsibility pet owners have in following the rules.
“Council rangers have limited resources and unfortunately cannot be on the beach all day every day enforcing the rules. Community education of these rules will form part of the rollout of the dog exercise areas,” said Mr Milburn.
“Council will also run an awareness campaign for both dog owners and beach users, to help everyone better understand the changes that have taken place and the rules around having a dog in a public space.”
Additional facilities to protect the environment and to assist in keeping these areas clean will be considered as part of the signage project, he said.
A review of the new dog walking areas will be conducted mid-2022 to assess the outcome of the new rules. Council says it will also continue to work with key stakeholders to further develop facilities for dog walkers.
While Council does not regulate dog access in large parts of the Shire’s Crown Lands, including a number of beaches, it has agreed to continue to advocate for the extension of off-leash areas in Crescent Head and lobby for potential changes to plans of management of park areas by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Services.
It says the advocacy will aim to allow or enhance access for dog owners to Back Beach and via Richardsons Crossing.