English Heritage has admitted that a member its staff at Osborne House in East Cowes was “over zealous” in warning boat owners not to moor off the attraction’s newly opened beach.
The organisation has opened Queen Victoria’s former private beach to visitors for swimming. However, a row has erupted between English Heritage and the RYA over the right to anchor boats in the bay.
In a statement the RYA said it is advising boaters that anchoring there is unrestricted, despite what it called “claims made to the contrary by local English Heritage representatives”.
The RYA had objected to an application by English Heritage to prohibit anchoring or navigation in the waters adjacent to its beach (including in the swimming area). It says that although a marine licence has been issued, there are a number of unresolved issues relating to safety of navigation. In particular, the RYA says it is concerned about the adequacy of the marking of the swimming area and individual marker buoys in Osborne Bay.
Gus Lewis, Head of Legal and Government Affairs for the RYA said in a statement, “We have received a number of reports from boaters that they have been instructed by a representative of English Heritage from the beach in Osborne Bay that they are not allowed to anchor in or close to the marked swimming area.
“Clearly, if there is an area marked out for swimming then boaters will need to take particular care if they choose to navigate or anchor in this area. However, English Heritage has no authority to prohibit anchoring anywhere in Osborne Bay and its staff have no power to require anchored boats to move.”
English Heritage Response
In response, English Heritage issued a statement saying, "We do not question the right of boaters to anchor in Osborne Bay but like the RYA, we would stress the need to take care when navigating the bathing area at Osborne. However it does appear that a member of staff was over-zealous in alerting boaters to the existence of this new bathing area. The initiative to deploy the buoys marking the bathing area was one of the conditions attached to our Planning Approval Notice for the new beach project at Osborne. We have received a letter from the RYA regarding their concerns to which we will reply to soon."