DOG owners in East Ballina want to let their pets run free on Angels Beach for an hour-and-a-half every morning.
They have started a petition which will be presented to Ballina Shire Council next month.
Residents Jim and Merrilyn Roche, who live at Angels Beach and have a 12-month-old Great Dane, said the proposed times would not inconvenience too many people.
“A lot of us living in this area have dogs, and some of them are quite big,” Mr Roche said.
“We want to be able to let them off their leashes so they can ... use up some of their surplus energy.
“We’re asking for off-leash time between 6.30am and 8am during daylight saving, and between 7am and 8.30am the rest of the year.
“Angels Beach isn’t that popular with swimmers anyway, and the dogs would still be under supervision.
“We would like to see this happen for a trial period to start with.”
The idea has angered environmentalists, who claim the dogs would devastate the beach’s fragile ecosystem.
Founder of Angels Beach Dunecare, Shirley White, said dogs should not be allowed on beaches at all.
“This would be a backward step,” she said.
“The rock platform at Flat Rock is the second most important site in the Ballina Shire for roosting and migratory birds.
“It’s a resting site for them and I wouldn’t want to see dogs rushing at these birds.
“One day I spent a whole afternoon planting 60 trees in an area near Black Head and then a couple came to the beach and let their dog off the leash. It just trampled all over the little trees.
“People don’t realise the damage dogs can do.
“There are other places in the shire where they’re allowed to get off the leash.”
Environmentalist and East Ballina resident, Lee Andresen, said many people already let their dogs off the leash at Angels Beach.
He said it was a difficult situation to control.
“If dog owners want more freedom to exercise their dogs without leashes, then the preferred way would be at a designated zone during certain hours,” he said.
Ballina Shire Council’s off -leash areas include the rear of Bicentennial Gardens; Compton Drive at East Ballina; Gap Road at Alstonville and north of Lake Ainsworth Reserve on Seven Mile Beach.