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Temporary ban on river speedboats

PUBLISHED: 12:22 06 August 2008 | UPDATED: 21:00 05 July 2010

Campaigners battling to stop water skiing near damaged flood defences on a north Suffolk estuary will soon see speedboats temporarily banned while flood walls are repaired.

Campaigners battling to stop water skiing near damaged flood defences on a north Suffolk estuary will soon see speedboats temporarily banned while flood walls are repaired.

Villagers living around the Blyth estuary have been calling for a ban on sports like water skiing for more than a decade, claiming the wash from speedboats erodes river banks.

The Environment Agency (EA) has announced plans to stop maintaining flood defences at the estuary over the next 20 years and local volunteers and landowners, who have spent months shoring up breaches in the flood walls with sandbags, say that allowing water sports will do even more damage.

Now the two councils responsible for the area - Waveney and Suffolk Coastal district councils - have agreed to close the river temporarily while work to repair the damaged flood walls gets under way.

A spokesman for the councils said: “It was agreed that there will be no powerboat activity on the river upstream of the Bailey Bridge when work is taking place on the river walls. The Southwold harbourmaster will support this by controlling access to the river via the public slip. At other times he will continue to inform motorboat users of potential implications and encourage them to go to sea, as opposed to up-river.”

The harbourmaster will also monitor boating on the river and estuary so that the EA can assess the damage being caused and consider whether to ban powerboats altogether.

The council spokesman said: “A further meeting incorporating a site visit by boat has been proposed to take a closer look at the area under the threat of erosion. We are aware of the important work being under-taken in this area and of the need to base any decision on the future use of this stretch of the river on evidence and professional advice.”

Graham Hay Davison, chairman of Southwold Harbour and River Blyth Users' Association, said: “It is obviously in the interest of the sea walls and the estuary itself to reduce the wash from boats. We are keen that the two councils work together to get this solved. Legally, the only people entitled to water ski on the estuary are members of the water ski club, which disbanded 20 years ago, so no one should be up there at all. The longer this goes on, the more damage it is doing.”

Sue Allen, chairman of the Blyth Estuary Group, welcomed the news of a successful meeting between the councils. She said: “It's an ongoing problem but the harbourmaster has now started to advise people not to go up the river.”


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