Published: 12:06, 14 March 2017
The controversial oyster racks on Whitstable beach have been recommended to be removed immediately following an investigation by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
The government-run body, which has branded the low-lying racks a “navigational hazard”, says the Whitstable Oyster Fishery should relocate the under-fire racks.
Calls for the racks to be removed began last year after 10 people reportedly collided with them, with two people suffering injuries.
An investigation into a potential marine licensing offence is also being carried out by the Marine Management Organisation.
The news has been welcomed by Whitstable MP Sir Julian Brazier, who has campaigned alongside councillor Ashley Clark to get the racks removed.
“I’m pleased that the Maritime and Coastguard Agency agree with the view taken by myself and by local councillors, which is that the oyster racks on Whitstable beach pose a hazard to local recreational sea-users and should be removed or relocated immediately,” he said.
Sir Julian is also delighted to hear that an official probe into a licensing offence is being carried out.
Last week members from Sir Alan’s safety team met the MMO, Trinity House, the Whitstable Yacht Club and the Oyster Fishery.
Sir Alan Massey, from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, says the racks need to be removed or relocated.
He said: “Our assessment, which we provided to the MMO, was that the racks posed a navigational hazard to local recreational sea-users, as well as restricting the available room for safe access to and from the slipways which are used by the public and Yacht Club.
“We recommended that they were either removed or relocated further to the south west.”
Rules for the relocation have also been set out, with plans for signage to be made clear to all water-users.
Sir Alan added: “The array should be correctly marked with buoys, and that beacons or withies should be placed at either end of each row, so that the hazard can be identified when submerged.
“We also advised that the site should be marked on the relevant British Admiralty charts.”
Director of the oyster fishery James Green previously slammed councillors and Sir Julian for trying to get the firm removed from the beach.
He said that the company had never been contacted by those campaigning for the removal and insisted that no reports of problems had been reported to him.