Celebs back surfers’ campaign

British environmental charity Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) has unveiled a new initiative – ‘Protect Our Waves’ – calling for legislation to better recognise and protect UK surfing waves and beaches. SAS has launched a ‘Protect Our Waves petition’ – www.protectourwaves.org.uk – which sets out to generate over 100,000 signatures.

The purpose of the campaign is 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.

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 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 no specific 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 an 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.

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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 have very little knowledge of the value, uniqueness and finite nature of surfing waves and the landscapes, swell corridors prevailing weather conditions and other conditions creating good quality waves.

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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.

Nine times European 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 environmental threats 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.”

Surfers Against 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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