WINDSPORT lovers could be set to speed along the sand again after plans to bring sand yachting back to the beach moved a step closer.
Kites and mini yachts could all be allowed on St Annes beach if nine days worth of trials prove to Natural England local wildlife will not be damaged by the proposals.
Trax Windsports is behind the plans, which would see buggies – similar to sand yachts – return to the beach for the first time since Carole Cruz died after being struck by a racing yacht in 2002.
The trials will take place over nine days in February and March and have been welcomed by Fylde Mayor, Coun Howard Henshaw, a big advocate of sand yachting.
He said: “I’ve been trying to push this along for years so it’s good news. I’m very pleased.
“I think it will be very good for St Annes and I think they’ve learned their lessons and it will be well monitored.
“It’s just a pity it’s taken 10 years to get to this stage.”
During the trials flags and marshalls will be in position on the beach for safety reasons.
Fylde Council will ultimately be responsible for issuing a permit to allow Trax to practice windsports.
A Fylde Council spokesman said: “Over the nine days Trax can test the impact of these windsports on the bird population.
“If the impact is shown to be small and manageable then the windsport activities will return on a more permanent basis.
“We believe it will be safe and we hope the trials go well because we do want to see wind activities return to the area – but we accept the interests of nature have to come first.”
As it stands, Trax, based off Clifton Drive North, is restricted to water-based activities, and they have hired a bird monitor to assess the impact on birdlife during the trial.
Neil Clark, Natural England’s Area Manager, said: “We have no objection to sand yachting taking place provided it has no impact on the area’s internationally significant bird populations.
“Indeed, we have been working closely with Fylde Council and Trax to facilitate this and recently reached an agreement that balances the interests of sand yachting enthusiasts with the ecological importance of the estuary.”
A 200m buffer zone from the waterline is in place to protect feeding birds.