Harbour board to consider whether to make some exceptions for organised coasteering groups.

PROPOSALS to make Ilfracombe a destination for coasteering groups will be discussed today (Tuesdays) by the town’s Harbour Board.

In a report to the committee, harbour master Rob Lawson was to suggest the board investigate the possibility of allowing the activity between Hele and the Rapparee area.

Coasteering has become increasingly popular and involves people climbing, jumping off rocks and swimming between them, usually as part of a supervised group conducted by a tour company.

Watermouth Harbour banned coasteering from its land in March, apparently fearing legal repercussions if an accident was to occur and Mr Lawson said this had left groups mainly restricted to some areas around Croyde.

“I got to thinking about our desire to open up Rapparee more and it seemed to me to be a good thing to do, to allow groups to come out of Hele and to Rapparee, or vice versa,” he told the Gazette.

He said the harbour area was covered by a bylaw that banned swimming or jumping into the water and that would not change, but added:

“There is a coasteering charter which covers all the safety aspects required. If we were to discuss it with the groups, get them to sign up to that and give formal permission, maybe we could start inviting them to use the facility,” he said.

“It would only be by permission from the harbour master, in accordance with the bylaw and complying with the charter.

“It is early days and we would also need to discuss it with the legal department of North Devon Council.”