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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

Jet skis banned after 'making waves' at lough shore

Antrim Lough shore

Jet-skiers are to be banned from entering Lough Neagh from slipways owned by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council following reports of antisocial behaviour.

A report to a recent meeting of the council’s Operations Committee said that previously,  access had been available at a slipway for jet skis at Antrim lough shore. At Cranfield, in Randalstown, access was provided by a slipway adjacent to a disused jetty.

Councillors were informed, however, that the jetty in Antrim had to be closed last summer due to “blue-green algae issues”.

During a discussion behind closed doors at the committee meeting, members were told that the local authority receives “numerous” complaints annually regarding jet-ski use at the shore of Lough Neagh in Antrim.

Minutes of the meeting say that these include problems for boat owners who have vessels moored at Antrim Boat Club with jet-ski wakes said to “affect moorings”.

The proximity of jet-skis to open water swimmers and paddle boarders as well as “confirmed reports of anti-social behaviour, including substance misuse in the area” were also highlighted.

Reports of “negative impact” on wildlife within the Six Mile River were noted.

The minutes indicated that following an independent water safety report commissioned by the council, the use of buoys to create “designated zones” for swimmers and a “clear channel” for jet-skis has now been dropped after some jet-skiers “continued to remain close to other water users and removed or damaged buoys”.

Councillors were advised that several options have been considered to “regulate jet ski access at council-owned locations but will not be pursued further due to challenges related to access control”.

The committee was informed: “In both locations, the council lacks the ability to enforce any terms and conditions, including insurance requirements or penalties for inappropriate behaviour.”

In March, Antrim and Newtownabbey councillors agreed to scale down plans for the refurbishment of Cranfield Jetty in Randalstown following a “substantial increase” in costs since the original estimate of £310,000.

A basic repair of the slipway and removal of remaining jetty posts which would provide access to Lough Neagh but no mooring for boats was ruled out after members agreed on a proposal for a shorter jetty and/or shorter pontoon for mooring smaller boats and replacement concrete slipway.

Meanwhile, a slipway registration scheme has been introduced at Portglenone Marina and Newferry by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council at a cost of £30 for users annually after concerns were raised about the use of jet skis. The local authority does not permit jet ski use at the Portglenone slipway.


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