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Call for water-ski ban

PUBLISHED: 10:19 24 April 2008 | UPDATED: 20:13 05 July 2010

Campaigners fighting to preserve flood defences along parts of the beautiful Blyth Estuary in north Suffolk have called for a ban on water-skiing, claiming the pursuit is further damaging river banks.

Campaigners fighting to preserve flood defences along parts of the beautiful Blyth Estuary in north Suffolk have called for a ban on water-skiing, claiming the pursuit is further damaging river banks.

Volunteers have been involved in shoring up damaged defences after the Environment Agency announced plans to withdraw its maintenance work over the next two decades.

Now, the Southwold Harbour and River Blyth Users' Association wants Waveney District Council to bring in a new order to stop water-skiing in affected areas.

Chairman Graham Hay Davison said: “This is an emotive issue and one that Waveney District Council has got to tackle head on.”

He added that the association had been trying to get water-skiing banned for 10 years because of damage to the saltmarsh and the impact to river users in slower boats.

He said that although the part of the river used by water-skiers was controlled by Suffolk Coastal District Council, the slip from which they launched was under Waveney.

“The area between the Bailey Bridge and Oyster Point is designated and signed as an area in which water-skiing can take place and the global limit of four knots on the river can be ignored,” added Mr Hay Davison.

“There would be no objection to water-skiing being permitted at sea in Dunwich Bight or from the harbour entrance up to the pier, providing safe distances were observed and enforced.”

He said the problem had worsened since the November tidal surges, and permitting water-skiing could undo all of the hard work repairing flood defences where volunteers had been filling in sea breaches with sandbags.

Mr Hay Davison added: “Those of our community who have laboured hard to repair the damage would be incensed to see their hard work being destroyed by a few selfish individuals who would put their pleasure before the communal wellbeing.”

A spokesman for Waveney District Council said: “Although Waveney District Council may be able to constructively stop the water-skiing by denying use of the slipway, we feel such action would be unreasonable.

“To deny people access to a designated area would be discriminatory. We have to get the balance right so everybody can enjoy the amenities. We also have a duty to encourage and preserve water activity and recreation, if the relevant authority has deemed it is appropriate.”

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