Oyster Trestle Public Inquiry: Special Feature #2

Whitstable Beach Campaign Survey re Public Safety Incidents from WOFC trestle development

On Monday 26th July, a Public Inquiry began to determine an appeal by the Whitstable Oyster Fishery Company against an enforcement notice made by Canterbury City Council in 2018 against the oyster trestle development, which was built without planning consent and which the council ordered the company to remove.

There have been numerous submissions made to the Inquiry by various interested parties, including local organisations and clubs, professional experts, scientists and local residents.

Here is one of the submissions made by the Whitstable Beach Campaign – a survey conducted by them into accidents/incidents/near misses concerning the Whitstable Oyster Fishery Company’s trestle development.

Note: It makes alarming reading and is concerning for local residents and visitors because it almost certainly isn’t the complete picture. The comments are recorded verbatim from the responses, Identifying names have not been included for reasons of confidentiality:

Whitstable Beach Campaign Survey completed 14.2.20.

Q5 Safety issues: have you, your family members, or guests, had any accidents/incidents/’near miss’ with any of the Oyster Trestle Developments or witnessed anyone else being affected?

1I have often found myself rescuing others from going over the oyster beds or almost going over them myself when sailing and teaching.2/14/2020 8:19 PM
2We have rescued members of the yacht club who have capsized near the oyster trestles and drifted over them.2/13/2020 8:09 PM
3Details provided on personal level above. In addition witness a dad swim to rescue son who have got caught up on the beds with his sailing boat/dingy. The son has stopped sailing.2/12/2020 10:05 PM
4Sailing dinghy has capsized near to the trestles. Danger of boat going totally inverted, and the mast fouling the trestles.2/12/2020 4:53 PM
5As part of the rescue boat crew for the yacht club I have had to helm a rib across the trestles at high tide to assist a capsized boat in trouble that drifted over to the closed area (they had been clear before capsizing). Issues presented itself of not having a clear area to work and concern about metalwork around the crews feet2/12/2020 2:10 PM
6Only because we now gave to avoid the area.2/12/2020 12:11 PM
7Not knowing the extent of the site one of our power Safety boats ended up going over the trestles which the skipper when the engine gently impacted one of the tables. They had to switch off the engine and paddle out of the site, difficult to know when they were clear. During this time the safety of the young people was at risk as the Safety boat was out of action. This was when the marker buoys were not placed to accurately identifying the outline of the site. This may be better now.2/12/2020 11:09 AM
8Nearly hit them with my inflatable canoe2/12/2020 11:06 AM
9Sailing – when a boat capsized it drifted dangerously close to the trestles making it hard for the boat and its crew to be recovered by safety vessels as the tide was too low for them to navigate over2/12/2020 11:02 AM
10I recently had gear failure on my boat, sailing East from the Harbour. Before the Oyster Trestle development, I would simply have sailed to the shore. Instead, I had to carry out a difficult and potentially dangerous manoeuvre to stay out to sea, turn the boat around, and head back to the beach by the Harbour.2/12/2020 9:23 AM
11last summer during a sailing race the wind dropped and the tide took me briefly into the trestle area. Fortunately a small gust enabled me to sail out but I was lucky, this has put me off in light winds and strong winds. I have also witnessed many incidents involving the public sailing, paddle boarding canoeing jet skiing across the trestle area and have witnessed one rescue when a sailing boat got caught within the trestle area and the rescue boat couldn’t get to it and eventually a jet ski had to help.2/11/2020 4:58 PM
12Near misses particularly when sailing in bad weather2/10/2020 3:51 PM
13Numerous near miss incidents have occurred owing to novices and learners drifting on the tide towards the danger zone. this creates a constant call upon additional vigilance and the stationing of rescue boats. The expansion of the trestles has removed the lee way for manoeuvre, time and opportunity for learners to recover control without the direct intervention of a rescue boat. The principle in these situations of “the person before the boat” can result in abandoning a boat to drift across the trestles with the consequent problems of retrieval. It is moreover self evident that the steel structures beneath the surface of the water are highly dangerous for a Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) to effect a rescue, except by standing off and deploying long lines with floats (lee shore rescue procedure).2/10/2020 11:24 AM
14As discussed in the previous answer: I have been pushed towards or onto the racks numerous times. Luckily I have never sustained any injuries (even though serious injury is a distinct possibility) however I had several times damage to my equipment (fins hitting the racks, at one time a fins was ripped off my board).2/9/2020 2:17 PM
15On August Bank Holiday (25/8/19) during the regular monthly beach clean I organise as part of Whitstable’s Marine Environment Group, I witnessed at least a dozen people swimming, paddle boarding and kayaking into the oyster trestle area over a period of an hour and half. The beach was packed – I’ve never seen so many people there. It was high tide and so the trestles weren’t visible. I was so alarmed I took photos – I thought they may be useful in case of an accident. I2/7/2020 8:52 PM

don’t know whether anyone was injured as a result but, if they weren’t, it was purely down to luck.
16I regularly see swimmers, kayakers and paddle boarders unknowingly drift or paddle into the trestle area when the water is covering the trestles. The 1000’s of tourists visiting do not know – if the tide is in – what dangers lie below the surface, not least because it would be completely unexpected to find such sharp metal obstructions so close to shore. I think most would be horrified to see what they were swimming/paddling over. I would consider all of these incidents as ‘near misses’. In my view a fatality or serious injury is only a matter of time2/7/2020 8:52 PM
17My children through no fault of their own have drifted into the area when marks have been missing causing minor damage to kayaks. I have nearly been run over by the reckless driving standards of the idiots that work on trestle site when they ride their quad bike at top speed across the mud near pedestrians and through the harbour.2/7/2020 7:54 PM
18Inadvertently sailed the wrong side of the marker buoys which are spread too far apart to present an easily viewable line of where the risk area starts/finishes.2/7/2020 8:05 AM
19My mum and i were sailing in a fever and unfortunately capsized the rope which went over the rudder was stuck and the daggerboard fell out so I couldn’t get the boat back up again and we nearly hit the trestles.2/6/2020 5:36 PM
20I was out paddling in a kayak and with the wave/winds of the day, drifted through the trestle area – this was before the huge signs had been erected. Had I fallen into the water, I may have been injured by the trestle sharpness. Previously, we regularly sailed through the area which is now full of trestles2/5/2020 11:41 PM
21Kayaking – have scraped base of kayak. Windsurfers hurting themselves on trestles. Swimmers unaware of the obstructions underneath. Dogs swimming.2/5/2020 11:33 PM
22My daughter and great grandson were almost hit by a quad bike driving too fast on the beach.2/5/2020 9:04 AM
23Whilst sailing strong winds forced me onto the area which took me into a dangerous situation which did not need to occure2/4/2020 6:48 PM
24Problems with being blown towards them, especially with inexperienced crew2/4/2020 2:58 PM
25Visiting competitors have to be advised during safety briefings prior to events where the oyster trestles take on their own potential dangers. Catamarans visiting for the Annual Forts Race have in recent years capsized close to the buoys marking the area of the trestles and despite the efforts of their crews have been taken across the oyster trestles due to wind and tide. When this occurs our safety boats may not be able to get to the stricken craft.2/4/2020 1:27 PM
26I found myself amongst the trestles whilst windsurfing. I got my legs caught up in the metal trestles, it was a very frightening and potentially dangerous situation.2/3/2020 9:15 PM
27Stranded on the seaward side of the wrestled whilst windsurfing. been caught on the top of the trestles whilst windsurfing and dumped on them by waves. I have presented these incidents in my representation to CCC.2/3/2020 9:12 PM
28Having broken part of my windsurfer, the wind and waves blew me on to the semi submerged trestles at the time. As a consequence, the rusting steel further damaged my equipment and cut my leg. Also the half height withies made it even more difficult to escape what felt like a ‘net’ of metal. There are some nasty pointed parts of the trestles which are just unsafe for those using the water, who may by some misfortune find themselves over and on the racks or within the withies.2/3/2020 8:09 PM
29I once drifted over the oyster bed on my capsized dinghy and got rigging caught which I had to cut free before righting by boat.2/3/2020 6:50 PM
30We have enough local knowledge to give the area a very wide berth in case the current and/or wind take us into the trestle zone. I used to swim from West Beach to the Harbour regularly, but it would not be safe to do that now.2/3/2020 10:54 AM
31A friend of a family member has fallen off a windsurfer and nearly landed on one of the trestles.2/3/2020 9:19 AM
32Have been forced to land further down the beach when trying to make landfall when sailing. With the risk of tearing the bottom out of the boat.2/2/2020 11:19 PM
33Witnessed swimmers being frightened by unaware jetskiers who have had to come inside2/2/2020 5:45 PM

council distance buoys not realizing swimmers were in the vicinity.
34Enjoy a leisurely sail towards Sea Salter. Narrowly missed the sharp spikes which were just below the water line. Very concerned about damaging the boat and risk to the friends onboard2/2/2020 11:12 AM
35Almost damaged boat and hurt when swimming2/1/2020 7:47 PM
36There are frequent occasions where craft either in blissful ignorance or deliberately ,sail, paddle or row in the buoyed area & do not realise what lies beneath them. I have seen gear failure but luckily the sailor drifted out of the zone2/1/2020 6:17 PM
37Whilst windsurfing I have nearly hit the oyster beds.2/1/2020 6:15 PM
38Yes, in a rescue capacity, I have had to go to the aid of several sailors who were in danger of drifting into the marked area, and at risk becoming tangled in the structure of the trestles.2/1/2020 5:26 PM
39Being forced further out into rougher sea conditions than I wanted to in order to get around the oyster trestles.2/1/2020 2:56 PM
40Yes. At ages between 10-13 my son has been blown into the buoyed danger zone whilst learning to windsurf on several occasions. At WYC cadet training sessions it is common for juniors learning to sail to have to be towed away from the danger area by rescue boats. Once any boats are in the buoyed zone the rescue craft are unable to operate within it making rescue impossible and leaving juniors to fend for themselves in an extremely hazardous area.2/1/2020 1:35 PM
41Swept into them while windsurfing in dropping wind2/1/2020 10:17 AM
42My daughter capsized catamaran and snapped spinnaker pole, on the first lot of trestles.2/1/2020 8:41 AM
43I hear people hit them all the time, it’s very difficult to avoid them with any sailing craft1/31/2020 11:53 PM
44My son and his friend drifted on the the racks with friend sustaining cuts to his leg and damage to sail1/31/2020 10:13 PM
45While canoeing there have been occasions where canoeists have capsized near them, the outcome could have been very different if we were over them.1/31/2020 9:32 PM
46Been close to trestles when learning to kitesurf, quite scary.1/31/2020 7:33 PM
47Got worried when swimming that was in the trestle area and frightened as to whether I would hurt myself on the trestles.1/31/2020 5:21 PM
48A Dinghy and occupants had to be rescued after becoming trapped in the development having capsized offshore in a race with an onshore wind.1/31/2020 1:50 PM
49Whilst sailing in strong wind conditons the line holding up my sail broke, and I was forced to quickly find safe haven on the beach. The extent of the trestles along the foreshore made it hard for me to access the beach without sailing through them, which I was unwilling to do because of the significant danger this posed to my boat and my crew. I was forced to sail a substantial extra distance along the coast in order to land safely. This was hard for me as an experienced sailor _ I dread to think what would have have happened to someone with less experience1/31/2020 1:44 PM
50Before there was boys around the Oyster trestles. we went over there on paddle boards and it nearly punctured my paddle board I scratched my leg on one of the metal bars. I do believe they are dangerous and they should be removed.1/31/2020 1:26 PM
51Sailing boat caught on a post for a time. Swimmers are unaware of the underwater obstructions1/31/2020 12:54 PM
52£1000 damage to boat1/31/2020 12:28 PM
53Nearly drifted on to the racks when wind dropped1/31/2020 11:51 AM
54Damage to my feet and sailing equipment.1/31/2020 11:13 AM
55Sailing – had to rescued prior to drifting into the trestles1/31/2020 11:12 AM
56My partner who sails has sustained damage to his boat.1/31/2020 11:11 AM
57Not directly – but because I am very aware of the potential danger I go out of my way to make sure all our family and guests are similarly aware before they enter the water.1/31/2020 10:39 AM

58Near miss. After lending assistance to another craft and subsequently taking said craft under tow in poor weather, we had to divert into deeper water once we realised we were in danger of striking the farm whilst approaching the ramp (opposite lifeboat station) from the west. We were not aware of the extent of the farm as it was poorly marked and not indicated on our chart.1/31/2020 10:18 AM
59Lots of club members have had near misses of these tressels whilst sailing1/31/2020 10:18 AM
60I am not a member of Whitstable Yacht club at the moment but in the past I was a regular sailor (As well as club manager for three years). Having a club and obvious obstacles in the water so close To a leisure facility creates a hazard and also spoils the enjoyment of those involved who have used that water long before the trestles arrived.1/31/2020 9:53 AM
61Dinghy capsized close to trestle table. Wind and tide carried me very close to trestles, but I just managed to right boat it time.1/31/2020 9:42 AM
62I have seen sailors swept into the structures by the wind/tide1/31/2020 9:17 AM
63I have seen people paddleboarding / canoeingand getting into trouble with tidal flow and the obstructions1/31/2020 9:14 AM
64Near miss. My boat drifted over the exclusion zone having got caught up with weed. No damage1/31/2020 8:47 AM
65Children wanting to climb and play around the area in an area that is supposed to be family friendly..1/31/2020 8:34 AM
66But it is only a matter of time until someone is seriously hurt1/31/2020 8:18 AM
67Numerous capsizes near the trestles have required urgent safety boat assistance1/31/2020 7:47 AM
68I damaged my paddle board on the oyster racks.1/31/2020 7:06 AM
69Previously we have been blown into them when trying to rescue capsized kayaks.1/31/2020 6:37 AM
70As above1/31/2020 6:28 AM
71Blown onto tables when capsized in my dinghy in strong winds / tide , likewise blown onto the tables whilst windsurfing in strong winds/ tide .1/31/2020 1:39 AM
72Dinghy sailing incidents seen. Especially when a boat is obstructed from manoeuvering.1/30/2020 11:58 PM
73As a member of Whitstable Yacht club I have seen both sailing dinghy’s, paddle boards and windsurfers drifted or blown over the trestle’s always in difficulty due to equipment failure or exhaustion and swimmers who have swam beyond them perhaps without realizing they are there and then are frightened to return over them. We cannot assist anyone with safety boats over the trestle’s.1/30/2020 11:55 PM
74I have often seen sailors having to take action to avoid the trestles leading them to make rapid and sometimes risky manoeuvres. This sometimes involves risks to swimmers who are in the areas that sailors are forced to use by the siting of the trestles1/30/2020 11:15 PM
75Frequent bumps and chips to boat foils from unmarked trestles.1/30/2020 11:15 PM
76I have seen several occasion of blow beds drifting towards this area and it is only a matter time before there is an incident. Should this occur I see no way of how the RNLI would be able to get its rescue RIB Craft into the treble area to carry out a rescue with the intensity of obstructions. I would suggest this matter would worthwhile pursuing with the RNLI for their opinion as in mine there is no alternative facility to carry out a rescue within the trestle area1/30/2020 11:08 PM
77I had a student jump in dangerous close to the trestles while learning to sail.1/30/2020 11:03 PM
78I was a safety boat assistant during a dinghy race when two dinghies drifted very close to the oyster trestles. One was able to sail himself away and the other was « talked » away from them. It was two near misses. On another occasion the wind got up when I was sailing and I only just reached the shore in time before capsizing because the trestles were in the way. I have decided to move away from Whitstable because of the danger.1/30/2020 10:52 PM
79A group of us returning from cruise were caught in heavy weather forecast for later. One boat turned over and the occupants were rescued on the edge of the trestles only because by chance a rib was near. If not they would have been trapped there I just managed to avoid1/30/2020 10:50 PM

sailing over them. I have also seen canoes and jet skis go over them obviously unaware of the dangers or stupid enough to take the risk
80Sailing boat in heavy seas blown across oyster beds and capsize1/30/2020 10:28 PM
81I’ve had to rescue some of the children from the yacht club from drifting into the racks, also had to warn swimmer from endangering themselves.1/30/2020 10:20 PM
82As a member of the yatch club I have witnessed many near misses I also have to put my self at risk when safety boat in the event a sailing boat drift over them1/30/2020 10:19 PM
83As safety boat driver for WYC, have had to attend dingys that have entered the area of the racks1/30/2020 10:16 PM
84caught in onshore wind and force into area of trestles.1/30/2020 10:01 PM
85I recently capsized with my daughter and the tide took us into the area – it was scary.1/30/2020 9:48 PM
86An inexperienced pair of sailors capsized and drifted onto the trestles, resulting in significant fear and upset for the sailors and family.1/30/2020 9:25 PM
87I have had to rescue kids who were sailing and following a capsize were drifting into that area.1/30/2020 8:48 PM
88No, however we have had some close calls, when my childrens’ boat capsized and they were drifting close to the trestles.1/30/2020 8:33 PM
89Near miss whilst coming ashore1/30/2020 8:31 PM
90Capsiźed boats blown into restricted area. Rescue extremely tricky as structure off treaties prohibits use of rescue craft. Even very experienced sailors have been caught out.1/30/2020 7:47 PM
91Friend were cut/scratched by steel hook from oyster bay. Came loose from there and drifted down to the street area. Loose rope in the water too…seems to be from there1/30/2020 7:39 PM
92I have required rescueing from the trestles luckily in time before actually hitting them as I was windsurfing and conditions changed and I was unable to move away from them or swim to safety. It was very frightening and it amazes me how close they are to the public.1/30/2020 7:39 PM
93Hit a trestle with my centre board which was damaged whilst passing around the edge of the bed at high water1/30/2020 7:34 PM
94Nearly got caught between the yellow boys due to strong tides1/30/2020 7:31 PM
95Have seen kayackers getting in trouble at half tide1/30/2020 7:18 PM
96I have seen parents on the beach worried or distressed with fear of their children getting caught in the tressles. Kids upset because they have not been allowed in the water.1/30/2020 7:07 PM
97When the areas are are extended and the tide is strong and wind dies off, it is possible to drift into the racks1/30/2020 6:44 PM
98During the summer month I witnessed many visitors swimming very close to the trestles whilst the tide was quite low. The trestles were just under water and could not be seen easily. I also witnessed children and visitors in inflatable crafts that were blown towards the trestles in light winds. I had to bring the trestles to the attention of the tourists who were not aware and said not to have taken notice of the signs during lovely hot weather and they assumed the beach was safe.1/30/2020 6:29 PM
99Several near misses on my kite board. Think it could of been very dangerous if I had been washed over them1/30/2020 6:02 PM
100See above. Cut myself freeing myself1/30/2020 5:33 PM
101I’ve witnessed kites ending up on the Oyster Development.1/30/2020 5:22 PM
102I inadvertently sailed into the tressles area an struck ground – it was windy but fortunately didn’t capsize…1/30/2020 5:13 PM
103Before we knew what the marks were marking we sailed amongst them.. horrific1/30/2020 5:09 PM
104Narrowly missed colliding with trestles kitesurfing, particularly when appeared at new or relocated locations without knowledge of this.1/30/2020 4:52 PM

105As a regular kitesurfer the trestles constitute a serious hazard. The nature of the sport is such that full control at all times is not possible and drifting on towards the trestle is inevitable. They therefore preclude kitesurfing activity that was previously practiced.1/30/2020 4:52 PM
106Almost cut leg1/30/2020 3:57 PM
107many friends have suffered damage to equipment and small injuries on trestles. I now live away from Whitstable and come back monthly in the winter and weekly in the summer to Windsurf, quick expansion and poor marking of trestles has caught me off guard and have fallen off over the trestles on my windsurfing equipment. I escaped without injury but was extremely lucky to not have been impaled on the verry dangerous metal racks.1/30/2020 3:45 PM
108Beds are a hazard to dinghy sailors. Although marked the buoys are small and easily missed when competing. Potential damage to equipment and injury to participants is a significant concern.1/30/2020 3:21 PM
109Blown into trestle when windsurfing, rescued by kayakers and pulled off by them.1/30/2020 3:15 PM
110Trying to return to the shore windsurfing when conditions worsened resulting it quite a struggle and loss of energy which can lead to dangerous impacts when isolated in the water where visibility by the public other water users is restricted1/30/2020 3:13 PM
111Pushed on to the racks by incoming tide/onshore wind. Fortunately no damage that time.1/30/2020 2:50 PM
112Boats have been blown or drifted towards the area1/30/2020 2:42 PM
113Several near misses while windsurfing, and have had to rescue younger sailors who were drifting onto the trestles while learning to sail. This is extremely, terrifyingly dangerous.1/30/2020 2:28 PM
114Drifted inside of them whist sailing and damage boat, whist teaching friens how to paddle board had to tow them away from the area1/30/2020 2:25 PM
115Near miss in sailing dinghy encroaching in area.Member of Whitstable Yacht club1/30/2020 2:12 PM
116A couple of near misses with trestles when sailing1/30/2020 2:04 PM
117Windsurfers being blown into the restricted area.1/30/2020 1:51 PM
118I have seen swimmers not realise the trestles are below a high tide.1/30/2020 1:43 PM
119Damage to boat.1/30/2020 1:39 PM
120Whilst sailing and windsurfing. Dangerous as cannot easily be seen and cannot use this area for watersports at many hours of the tide flow.1/30/2020 1:26 PM
121Whitstable Yacht Club safety boats regularly rescue sailors, windsurfers, canoeists and swimmers from the margins of the trestles. Many rescuees are visitors who simply do not know of their presence. I am one of the safety boat drivers.1/30/2020 1:20 PM
122Caught my legs swimming on falling tide. Now too dangerous to risk sailing at certain times. I no longer feel safe in these waters.1/30/2020 1:14 PM
123Capsized near the trestles.1/30/2020 1:07 PM
124Last Autumn some other beachgoers and I discovered a huge amount of nails in the mud opposite Wavecrest, not far at all below the shoreline. There were a couple of hundred, they were large, rusted, sharp and many stuck completely upright out of concrete lumps. It’s incredible that nobody got a long rusted nail through their foot, especially as children were playing very close to the popular spot. I attempted to report this to the foreshore people at the time (Chris Cornell informed them) but they never made any contact whatsoever. It seemed likely to me that this debris came from the oyster beds but I’m not an expert so cannot comment. I still have these in a bucket if anyone is interested in taking a look (mob: 07969 250018). For this reason I am now far more careful about allowing my children to paddle in this area and it has affected my use of that part of the beach (previously a favourite and regular spot of mine).1/30/2020 12:39 PM
125I’ve witnessed others being cut by swimming close to the metal they didn’t know were there.1/29/2020 5:00 PM
126Swimming1/29/2020 4:55 PM
127Not yet1/29/2020 4:38 PM

JOIN the new Facebook page for Whitstable Beach Campaign: https://www.facebook.com/groups/953077472197689
SIGN UP for the Whitstable Beach Campaign’s newsletter and updates by e-mailing: whitstablebeachcampaign@gmail.com
FOLLOW the campaign on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/whitstablebeachcampaign/
DONATE what you can to the Whitstable Beach Campaign Crowdfunder and share this link widely: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/save-whitstable-beach (They are fighting the development at the public inquiry and need our help to fund their legal fees.)

Here is a link to a Drop Box – which you can use to download the survey:

More on the Public Inquiry:

Whitstable vs Whitstable Oyster Fishery Company

Oyster Trestle Public Inquiry: Special Feature #1: Submission made by Julie Wassmer (includes sound recording)

Oyster Trestle Public Inquiry: Special Feature #3: Evidence presented to the Public Inquiry on July 28th 2021 from Geoff Meaden

Ways You Can Help Whitstable Views:

  • Make sure you share and like our articles on Facebook and Twitter, and whatever other social-media platforms you use.
  • Follow the site to get regular updates about new articles when they appear. Press the “Follow” icon in the bottom right hand corner of your screen and that will take you to the option to sign up. (It disappears as you move the text down, then reappears as you move it back up again!)
  • Leave comments on the site rather than on Facebook. Let’s get a debate going. All of our contributors are willing to engage with you if you leave a comment.
  • To all writers out there, we would LOVE you to make a contribution. Read our submissions page for details on how to go about that: https://whitstableviews.com/submissions/
  • Finally you can donate. As little as £1 would help. Details on the donations page here: https://whitstableviews.com/donate/


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s