Protect Our Waves

Alex Dick-Read

Surfers call for new law to protect threatened waves
British environmental charity Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) is today launching a new campaign calling for UK law to recognise and protect UK surfing waves, beaches and the livelihood of coastal communities.

SAS’s new Protect Our Waves petition – www.protectourwaves.org.uk – aims to generate over 100,000 signatures to highlight the value of surfing waves and beaches, and encourage Parliament to debate legislation in order to recognise and specifically protect surfing waves as a cultural, social, economic and environmental asset to coastal communities. SAS will deliver the petition to 10 Downing Street in Summer 2013.

Britishsurfing waves are under threat from a growing number of activities around our coastline that could destroy or have long-term devastating impact on some of our most prized surfing beaches. This includes coastal developments, pollution, and restricted access.

Hugo Tagholm, SAS Director says “Surfers Against Sewage is already working to protect a number of threatened surfing breaks around the UK and it is shocking that there is nospecific law in the UK to safeguard these amazing natural resources. 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.”

Waves are an important and necessary part of the workings of our planet. Surfing beaches and waves also have a deep personal value to surfers and surfing communities around the UK. However, in the UK 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.

Other sports and activities such as walking and sailing are formally recognized, represented and consulted during many new development processes**. Other areas of outstanding beauty and countryside sites are also protected. But politicians, developers and the wider public in general havevery little knowledge of the value, uniqueness and finite nature of surfingwaves and the landscapes, swell corridors prevailing weather conditions andother conditions creating good quality waves.

The campaign has already generated support amongst politicians, surfing industry leaders and musicians, including from music star and surfer Ben Howard, Lord Taylor, 9 times European longboard champion Ben Skinner and Ben Freeston, founder of leading global surf forecast site Magicseaweed.com, which has a reach of 1.5 million unique users.

LordMatthew Taylor says “I’ve long been a supporter of Surfers Against Sewage, helping organize their very first visits to Parliament 22 years ago. Today, they continue to achieve so much for our coastline and their new Protect Our Waves petition, highlighting the importance of protecting surfing waves and beaches from pollution, over-development and marine litter is a vital issue for coastal communities not just in Cornwall but right around the UK. Whether you are abusiness that depends on clean beaches, an avid surfer or an environmentalist wanting better protection for our coastlines, you should sign and support the petition today.”

9 xEuropean Longboard Champion, Ben Skinner says “I’m signing Surfers Against Sewage petition to help protect surf spots, waves and beaches for this and future generations. 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 environmentalthreats such as marine litter.”

Ben Freeston, Founder of Magicseaweed says “Like many surfers we’ve been so lucky to turn our passion into our livelihood and for both we’re so fortunate to live in a country with almost unrivalled access to the coastline and it’s amazing waves. This campaign aims to set a precedent by adding official recognition and a measure of protection to a truly renewable resource. Recognising its economic importance for those coastal communities building creative and sustainable business around the surf but also socially, for those of us who plan to keep chasing waves for as long as we’re able.”

SurfersAgainst Sewage is calling for legislation to better recognize and protect UK surfing waves and beaches. Revised criteria could work within the existing Marine & Coastal Access Act, revised Bathing Water Directive, Water Framework Directive and the Clean Neighborhood & Environment Act or be set up as a new piece of legislation.

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