LETTER: Protect our beaches, instead of plundering them

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JOHN Riddle’s letter (Mail, March 12) shows two things.

One, a lack of understanding on how the tides work along South Sands.

Two, the law.

The sand between “low mean water” and “high mean water” belongs to the Crown, that is Crown Estates.

Hartlepool Borough Council has a statutory duty to protect it, and to enforce any regulation and law that applies to it.

The tides along South Sands have been depositing coal either from an open seam under the water along the coast or from deposits left over from the dumping of coal waste, from the many pits that used the sea along the North-East coast as their waste deposit pit.

Free of any interference.

The coal deposit has never been collected by what we now call sea coalers.

People used to collect it for their greenhouse burners.

The tide washes it in, then washes it away, Mr Riddle, as it always has.

It only shows along the northern part of South Sands.

If you dig a hole down through the sand you will not find layers of coal, so it does not stay on the beach.

But whether it does or does not, is not the point, and never has been.

It has always been illegal for vehicles, other than those permitted by agreement, to go on the beach.

The council has up until now never enforced the law.

It still has not in entirety, as North Sands still has sea coalers on it.

At this point can I suggest to you, John Riddle, that you take a walk from the northern end of the Prom, on the Headland, and look always to your left.

You will see the folly of the past 150 years.

You will see thousands of tons of waste from the old steel works – slabs of molten steel waste.

Next, you will see what was once Central Estate put into baskets, and now just a pile of bricks and concrete (a mess).

Next you will see what was once a council waste tip (yes, another one).

It is now opening itself onto the beach.

Next, what was Steetley. It is now a dumping ground for anyone.

A place covered in broken asbestos roof sheeting, easy to find if you look. Yes, I have reported it.

This North Sands is not knee-deep in sea coal, John Riddle.

It is, in my opinion, just uncared for by the council and by us.

The skylark nesting ground has gone.

The sand dunes have vehicle-wide scars from top to bottom.

They are the roads for vehicles.

This is 2015. We have moved on from steel and coal to protecting our shores and our wildlife for our children’s future.

We do not do that by removing sea coal and sand from SSSI/SPAR-protected beaches, and allowing the law to be broken by a few.

John Marshall,

St Helen’s Street,

Hartlepool.