The Whitstable Beach Campaign is an organisation that was founded nearly twenty years ago. Its sole aim is to preserve the unspoilt nature of the beach and protect the right of access to it. We believe that the beach is vital to the community. It is a much-loved open space, which should be protected for all time.
The beach has several layers of protection afforded it including its Site of Special Scientific Interest designation and RAMSAR status, an international bird protection convention. The WBC, under the tireless leadership of Nick Dewhirst, has also succeeded in obtaining Protected Open Space designation and also an Article 4 Order for the beach to protect it from development and preserve access.
If you are interested in supporting the campaign, require further information or would like to receive e-mail updates on our activities please contact the Whitstable Beach Campaign using the form on the Contact page.
WHITSTABLE BEACH TOWN GREEN INQUIRY UPDATE
The Whitstable Beach Town Green Public Inquiry resumes for summings-up and final submissions from the Whitstable Beach Campaign. The application was made on behalf of the people of Whitstable in 2013 to legitimize their right to access to the beach in perpetuity, irrespective of its private ownership. Final submissions will also be heard from the only two parties opposing the application: Canterbury City Council & The Whitstable Oyster Fishery Company. The dates and venues for the final hearings are as follow:
FRIDAY 16th DECEMBER 10:00 am: Final submissions from Canterbury City Council. The Robinson Room, The Castle, Tower Hill, Whitstable CT5 2BW.
MONDAY 19th DECEMBER 10:00 am: Final submissions from the Whitstable Oyster Fishery Company. The Galley Suite, The Marine Hotel 37 Marine Parade, Whitstable CT5 2BE.
TUESDAY 20th DECEMBER 10:00 am: Final submissions from the Whitstable Beach Campaign The Galley Suite, The Marine Hotel 37 Marine Parade, Whitstable CT5 2BE.
Witnesses previously gave evidence at two previous sessions of the Inquiry in May and October.
In the most recent, Mr James Green of the WOFC gave as one of his reasons for opposing the right of people to carry out legal pastimes and pursuits on the beach, the possibility of organisms being brought onto the beach via the footfall of beach users, which would contaminate the oyster stocks of the WOFC. The Beach Campaign do not believe that there is any sound scientific basis or regulatory requirement to support this claim.
The WOFC told the Inquiry about their plans to build agricultural sheds on the beach near the Horsebridge to house grading machinery and equipment stores, the outcome being that the area from the Horsebridge to the Neptune, the most popular part of Whitstable Beach, would be excluded from public access. If the beach were awarded Town Green status this industrialisation of the beach and restriction of access would not be possible.
For these reasons we urge supporters of this application to attend the last three days of the Public Inquiry. Due to recent changes in Village & Town Green legislation this might be the last chance to register our beach as a Town Green and safeguard people’s right to use it.
NATURAL ENGLAND MAPPING OUR SECTION OF THE COASTAL ACCESS PATH.
Another issue related to the rights of access to the beach at Whitstable is currently being decided by Natural England. Natural England is mapping the England Coast Path – a new National Trail around England’s coast. For the first time people will have the right of access around our entire open coast. This includes; the path and where appropriate the land that continues seaward to the low tide. This is known as coastal margin.
One of the sections currently under consideration includes Whitstable. However, Natural England are considering excluding a large section of the foreshore on West Beach from this Coast Path at the request of the Whitstable Oyster Company who have recently erected large numbers of oyster trestles (see below). These are exposed at low tide but covered at higher tides and pose a significant risk to sailors, swimmers, windsurfers and other water users. The Whitstable Oyster Fishery Company have erected the racks, apparently (to the best of our knowledge) without consultation with or permission from any of the relevant bodies – RNLI, Trinity House, the RYA, the Marine Management Organisation, HM Coastguard etc. etc.
Growing oysters on steel racks is a relatively new method of cultivation involving importing Pacific oysters, rather than harvesting Native oysters from the seabed offshore, which has historically been the case. Canterbury City Council has stated in evidence at the ongoing Town Green Public Inquiry, that the oyster industry at Whitstable has been dormant for the last hundred years, until quite recently.
The recent increase in oyster production between the low and high water marks seems to have coincided with the Town Green application and Natural England’s mapping of the coast path. The situation has worsened in the last few months and the oyster racks are now a significant hazard for beach users generally. The no-go zone is causing hazards for sailing and windsurfing activities and there have already been incidents of dinghies and windsurfers colliding with the steel racks. It’s possible also that the oyster racks could also impact on RNLI operations if they expand at the current rate.
As mentioned previously, the Whitstable Oyster Company have publicly stated at the Town Green Public Inquiry that they intend to impose an exclusion zone over Whitstable dry Beach from the Horsebridge to the Neptune, which would dramatically effect the public’s access to the most popular part of the town’s beach. We would expect that the WOFC may also extend this request for exclusion to Natural England.
We are anxious that anyone concerned with safety on the water should make representations to Canterbury City Council, Natural England and all of the relevant organisations. Very few of these bodies, if any, seem to be aware of the danger and inappropriateness of the trestles. In our opinion the steel oyster trestles are a serious accident waiting to happen. The Natural England mapping is currently in progress and a prompt response from any concerned parties is required before it becomes set in stone.
If anyone would like to contact Natural England they should email Kevin Haugh: SouthEastCoastalAccess@naturalengland.org.uk
The Head of Planning at Canterbury City Council is Simon Thomas firstname.lastname@example.org
THE WHITSTABLE BEACH CAMPAIGN (WITH THE SUPPORT OF THE WHITSTABLE SOCIETY) HAS MADE AN APPLICATION TO KENT COUNTY COUNCIL FOR THE BEACH TO BE DESIGNATED A “TOWN GREEN”. IF SUCCESSFUL THIS WILL PRESERVE FREE ACCESS TO THE BEACH IN PERPETUITY. THE DEADLINE FOR EVIDENCE FORMS HAS NOW PASSED BUT WE HAVE COLLECTED OVER 400 WITNESS STATEMENTS FROM WITHIN THE PARISH OF WHITSTABLE FROM PEOPLE WHO HAVE USED THE BEACH DURING THE 20 YEAR PERIOD FROM 1992 TO 2012.
TO DATE THERE HAVE ONLY BEEN TWO OBJECTIONS TO THIS APPLICATION. THESE ARE FROM THE LANDOWNER, THE WHITSTABLE OYSTER FISHERY COMPANY AND CANTERBURY CITY COUNCIL
WHITSTABLE BEACH TOWN GREEN PUBLIC INQUIRY CONTINUES 3RD OCTOBER 2016.
The Public Inquiry for the Whitstable Beach Campaign’s application to register Whitstable Beach as a Town Village Green will continue at The Marine Hotel, Marine Parade, Tankerton, Whitstable, CT5 2BE starting at 10am on 3rd October for 3 days: Monday 3rd, Tuesday 4th and Wednesday 5th and then continues the following Monday 10th for 3 further days; Monday 10th, Tuesday 11th and concludes Wednesday 12th.
The Beach Campaign applied to register the beach in September 2013 after Whitstable Oyster Fishery Company (WOFC) notices appeared on many of the Groynes near the High Water mark saying: ‘Private Land, Do not take shellfish, No right of way seaward’.
The WBC was very concerned that these notices posed a serious threat to people’s use of the beach. They effectively say no one has the right to go beyond the position of the notice and therefore access to the sea for swimming or paddling etc, is private and out of bounds.
The Beach Campaign would like to encourage everyone to support us at this important inquiry. Never before have the people of Whitstable been denied access to their beach, access has always been free and unrestricted throughout the Town’s history. Public funds have created our current beach and public funds maintain, repair, clean and insure it. Any attempt to deny access must be prevented. Town Village Green status is the best way to secure access now and for future generations.
MORE INFORMATION ON THE TOWN GREEN PAGE.
DRAFT LOCAL PLAN
CANTERBURY CITY COUNCIL HAVE AMENDED THE NEW DRAFT LOCAL PLAN TO INCLUDE “LOCAL GREEN SPACE” DESIGNATION FOR WEST BEACH, GIVING A GREATER LEVEL OF PROTECTION OVER THE PREVIOUS “PROTECTED OPEN SPACE” DESIGNATION.
ONLY ONE OBJECTION HAS BEEN MADE TO THIS DESIGNATION, THE LANDOWNER, THE WHITSTABLE OYSTER FISHERY COMPANY
MORE INFORMATION ON THE LOCAL GREEN SPACE PAGE