doc

A COUNCILLOR fears Southend’s beaches could be shut as erosion of the foreshore unveils an ever increasing number of Second World War explosives.

Peter Wexham, Lib Dem councillor for Leigh, claims the apparently increasing levels of ordinance being found on the foreshore of Leigh, Chalkwell, Southend and Shoebury is a clear sign the covering layer of mud is eroding.

The retired fisherman said: “This stuff is explosive and if we are starting to get 30 or 40 at a time the beaches could be shut off if there is that much ordinance left out there.

“It seems to be getting worse. It has gone up from single figures to finds in their 30s.”

The Echo reported that the Army had to be called to detonate 32 shells found by bait digger Peter Tutt on New Year’s Eve.

The coastguard regularly calls in the bomb squad after shells left over from the world wars are uncovered by fishermen, bait digger and bathers along the estuary.

But Mr Wexham, who has been raising concerns over the erosion of the foreshore since last August, fears the number of shells found each time has increased dramatically over the past year, suggesting the mud is receding.

He said: “I can only assume it shows the erosion is going further out towards the edge of Hadleigh Ray between Westcliff and Chalkwell.

“At the moment there is still a lot of mud out there and there are no features standing out as there is at the shore end.

“It can only show the mud is lowering and bait differs are bringing up stuff which is lower down.”

The Environment Agency, Natural England and Southend Council are investigating the erosion of the foreshore with the help of DP World, an Dubai-based conglomerate that is digging a channel down the estuary so large containers can reach the super port it is building at Corringham.