Published: 11:06, 18 September 2020
| Updated: 15:21, 18 September 2020
Fishermen, jet-skiers, sailors and power boat users face paying a membership fee before they can enter the sea via launch ramps next year.
That is the plan being brought forward by Canterbury City Council, which is proposing to introduce a £150 annual charge for everyone.
The move comes after the authority was flooded with complaints about reckless jet-skiers causing a nuisance throughout the summer .
The divisive plan, which will be decided upon next Wednesday, has angered the fishing community who say they are being unfairly punished because of the actions of jet-skiers.
Fisherman Richard Foad, who regularly uses the ramps, said: “This really is very bad news which isn’t going down well with us.
“Commercial fisherman who have used Herne Bay and Whitstable for 30 years are now going to get charged.
“I can understand why jet-skiers should pay but there should be leniency to fishermen - they’re doing the wrong-un against local people and the council isn’t looking after us.
“It’s a big new expense. We already pay huge amounts for parking, storage, insurance and having the boat in the harbour.
“When we do maintenance on the boats we leave them on the beaches. So to take tools down to them, we use the ramps.
“But now this means we’ll have to pay.”
A report compiled by a councillor working group says they find it “difficult to justify charging some for this and not others” - therefore all water users will need to empty their pockets.
Every jet-ski rider will need to hold a Personal Water Craft (PWC) proficiency qualification and be covered by insurance.
Local jet-skiers previously hit back at the fee proposal, with Carole Butt saying: “My council tax includes use of local amenities - and the ramp is a local amenity.”
But the city council looks set to give the scheme the nod at a community committee meeting next week.
If so, £25,000 of council coffers will be set aside to implement the new measures.
Barriers will be installed at all five ramps, blocking access. They will only be able to be unlocked, either by key or security code, by those who have registered and paid £150.
Ad hoc visitors planning on using the ramps will not be able to launch, and there will be no capacity to sign up on the day.
While the new charge is set to be introduced for all water craft users, members of boating clubs would be exempt.
A fee to cover council costs would be charged to the club - giving their members free access to the ramps.
Members of fishing clubs such as Herne Bay Angling Association (HBAA) are also exempt when taking boats out.
It said: “We support the idea of asking jet-skiers and speed boats to have qualifications in order to get their barrier permit. All HBAA users should be exempt from this.”
If given the green light, the scheme would sit alongside new bye-laws reducing the width of transit lanes and imposing stricter speed limit.
It is hoped this would push the noisier activity 300m away from the district’s shoreline.
One of the respondents from the consultation, a resident in St George’s Terrace, Herne Bay, said: “We have endured the constant ear splitting noise from these machines for months, especially during the strict lockdown period.
“Why should the minority spoil it for the majority that live along the sea front or close by?”
Hampton launch ramp has beenbricked off by the council since June , but next week’s vote is set to pave the way for it to reopen.