British surfing waves are under threat

British surfing 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 Sites of Special Surfing Interest. This includes coastal developments, pollution, and restricted access.

Solid structures & commercial activities

Solid concrete structures sticking out of the coast into the sea represent the most common method by which surfing waves are destroyed, and the most permanent. If somebody builds a large concrete breakwater or sea wall, which destroys a surf spot in the process, that surf spot is gone forever.

Dredging a river mouth to make the water deeper for boat access or for extraction of minerals is also a way of destroying or degrading good surfing waves. Although this method isn’t always permanent and doesn’t actually involve building a solid structure, it does physically alter part of a natural system.

Restricted access

The last example of how surfing waves can be taken away from us is when we are simply denied access to them. In this case, the waves themselves might remain undamaged, but somebody decides that the public is not allowed to surf them. In most cases, this is because the area of coast and adjacent ocean containing the waves has been claimed by somebody as their private territory.


SAS Membership

‘The Gathering’

Surfers Against Sewages (SAS) new campaign Protect Our Waves (POW) had its first action today, The Gathering, a mass paddle out, in association with local campaign group Access BroadBench Association (ABBA). Over 350 surfers from across the nation joined SAS and ABBA and paddled out at Kimmeridge Bay on International Surfing Day. The action called on the Secretary of State for Defence to allow surfers access to Broadbench, a special wave found on the outer boundary of a Ministry of Defence (MoD) firing range.

Broadbench is a quality wave in Kimmeridge Bay, described by many as one of Britains best. Unfortunately it falls right on the outer boundary of a MoD firing range. SAS are not asking the MoD to reduce their use of this important firing range. However, SAS believe there is a compromise that will ensure surfers and waveriders can have 100% access to Broadbench without impacting on the MoDs full use of the firing range.

We are calling on the Secretary of State for Defence to implement SASs compromise, changing where the MoD currently fire from. This will in turn change the direction of the MoDs firing and could leave Broadbench outside the boundary of the firing range. It will not impact on the MoDs use of the firing range, leaving surfers and waveriders with 100% access to Broadbench and the MoD full use of their range.

International Surfing Day (ISD), sees surfing events taking place all over the world. There will be events in North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia but nothing like the Gathering. SAS expect the Gathering to be the best-supported event with over 350 surfers and supporter actively participating at the paddle out protest on ISD.

What to look out for

It is important to be aware of the potential developments that might be taking place that might impact your local spot.

Knowing what to look out for and what to do with that information can go a long way into helping protect your local break.

Consultations and notices of planning permission are made available on council websites and notices are often found attached to signs and lamp posts close to the area of development. While there is legal requirement to notify the local population of any potential developments, often these are not clearly obvious and can be very cleverly hidden or secluded. As a local, you have the ability to be the eyes and ears on the ground and identify potential threats to your wave.

When you find that there is a planning proposal that might threaten your local break. You need to gather as much information about it as soon as possible. The form below guides you through the information that you need before you take things further.

  • “One heartfelt, personalised letter, is worth dozens of form letters, and petitions were of very little value”

    Ryan Henson

Report your threat

Make sure we know all the details about the threat to your SSSI. Use the ‘Marine planning’ form in the navigation menu above and tell us as much information as you can about the threat and your SSSI. SAS staff are on hand to help challenge threats to SSSIs but need to know as much local information as possible first and foremost.

As a local you know more than us; your local knowledge is the key to ensuring threats are stopped and protected. If we don’t know about them, we cannot do anything.

Respond to consultation proposals

Planning notices often include requests for comment and response. Take that opportunity to raise your concerns and challenge the proposer to consider the impact on your SSSI.

Attend consultation meetings

Public forums to discuss proposed developments can allow you to speak face to face with not only the proposer but also the decision makers. They serve as a great opportunity to increase support for your concerns and ensure protection of your SSSI are high on the agenda.

Speak with SAS campaign staff about what to do next:

SAS staff have vast experience dealing with threats to waves. If you are stuck with how to progress your campaign, get in touch. Make sure you have completed and submitted a report form first.

Write to your MP

Raise your issue with your MP. Write a personal letter to them outlining your concerns, or attend a surgery with them and raise your concerns face to face. MPs are there to represent you and your community, use them to challenge threats.

Share your concerns via social media

Positive People Power is one of the best ways to achieve change. The more people that can positively support your goal, the more likely others are to listen and follow.