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Pleading for laws to protect beach waves

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: August 08, 2012

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SURFERS want the Government to write laws to protect Britain's waves, amid claims that beaches are under threat.

Campaigners fear the surfing industry in Devon and Cornwall – where it is worth £64 million alone – is in jeopardy from coastal developments and pollution because waves could be ruined.

Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) has launched a petition to collect more than 100,000 signatures to pressure Whitehall into affording waves and beaches the same protection as ancient woodland.

While laws already exist to safeguard beaches, SAS experts believe legislation needs to go further to safeguard the shoreline conditions that create waves.

The charity said that, if the industry takes a hit, communities relying on the sport's profitability would suffer.

SAS director Hugo Tagholm is spearheading the Protect Our Waves petition.

He described the potential long-term impact on waves and beaches from developments and pollution as devastating.

"Surfers Against Sewage is already working to protect a number of threatened surfing breaks around the UK and it is shocking that there is no specific law in the UK to safeguard these amazing natural resources," he said.

"Waves and surfing beaches should be recognised as part of UK coastal heritage and afforded greater protection and valued as unique, valuable and scarce assets, just like ancient woodland.

"There is currently no specific legal protection for surfing waves or any assurance that stakeholders, including surfers and surfing communities in Wales, Northern Ireland or England will be consulted fairly on activities threatening their existence."

The campaign has garnered support from politicians, top surfers and musicians.

Lord Matthew Taylor, a long-standing supporter of SAS said the petition highlighted the importance of the issue.

He said: "Pollution, over- development and marine litter are vital issues for coastal communities right around the UK.

"Whether you are a business that depends on clean beaches, an avid surfer or an environmentalist wanting better protection for our coastlines, you should sign and support the petition."

Ben Skinner, the nine-times European Longboard Champion, said too much development in coastal towns could destroy perfect surfing conditions.

He said: "Clean, perfect waves and great surf spots are a finite natural resource just like our forests, lakes and mountains, and we must ensure they are protected from over-development, pollution and other environmental threats."

"This campaign aims to set a precedent by adding official recognition and a measure of protection to a truly renewable resource."

The petition is online at www.protectourwaves.org.uk and will be handed into Downing Street in the summer of 2013.

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