SAILORS, sea cadets and naturalists have raised concerns about plans for an artificial lagoon almost the size of a football pitch on Southend seafront.
Natural England, a public body charged with protecting the natural environment, has warned the 120metre long steel, rock and boulder wall built to create the pool is likely to affect the foreshore, which is a site of specific scientific interest.
The Alexandra Yacht Club, whose members have flooded the council with objections, fears it would have to close after 140 years as the pool and a new groyne would block the jetty used by its 200-odd members.
Commodore Andy Solkhon said: “It will kill us. We won’t be able to survive.
“It’s putting people off joining, knowing that if the wall goes up they have wasted their time.”
The 60 children, many from under-privileged backgrounds, who are members of Southend Sea Cadets also use the yacht club’s jetty at the beach, which would be blocked by the lagoon.
Chairman Alan Friedrich said: “If this proposal goes ahead we will not be able to use the jetty and slipway or the beach.
“Our children will not have the ability to bring their dinghys against the slipway with the lagoon, but especially the groyne. It will be far too dangerous.
“We also sometimes land on the beach as this is very easy for the inexperienced children. We also use the beach to give instruction to the children.
“If this goes ahead it will stop our sailing activities.”
Natural England said the lagoon would harm wildlife, during and after its construction.
Gordon Wyatt, lead advisor of the land use operations team, said: “The use of heavy construction plant on the foreshore could potentially result in disturbance to wildlife.”
Seafront traders, councillors and tourism officials have backed the lagoon plan, put forward by the Stockvale Group, which owns a number of seafront attractions, including Adventure Island, the Sealife Adventure, restaurant Sands and the Three Shells Cafe.
A 120m wall up to three metres above sea level would be built using sheet piles, rock-filled baskets and boulders out on the foreshore.
Palm trees would be planted on the pavement around the Three Shells Cafe and a new toilet block would be built at the western end of the beach, under the plans.
The Stockvale Group declined to comment.