Careless jetski riders are facing legal clampdowns for putting a protected river and its wildlife in danger.
The River Hamble, which rises as a spring in Bishop’s Waltham and runs through Botley and Curbridge and out to the Solent, is protected by a series of by-laws put in place to preserve the ecosystem.
But concerns have been raised that jetski riders are flouting these rules – particularly when it comes to the speed limit. And the problem is not confined to the wide mouth of the river near the village of Hamble-le-Rice.
The area is popular with paddle boarders and canoeists. Boats are only allowed to reach six knots (7mph) along the river, until they reach Solent waters.
Chairman of the River Hamble Harbour board, Councillor Sean Woodward, said: “Jetskis are causing us a significant problem. You’re not allowed to breach the speed limit or create a wash along the river – but these riders are doing both.
“What’s worse is that we find them in the upper reaches of the Hamble, having a fine old time where they think we can’t see them.
“Unfortunately for them, the harbour master sees it all – and will be issuing fines for those flagrantly violating these laws.”
The board is issuing a general direction to all owners of personal watercraft to remind them that the laws still apply to their vehicles.
An ‘increased volume’ of traffic has been noted by the authorities, with a particular focus on the mouth of the river.
Cllr Woodward said: “You don’t even need a licence to drive a boat, so can buy anything and go out on the water.
“These jetskis fly along the river, creating a wash and damaging our wildlife, before getting to the Solent where they can do whatever they want.
“To me, the answer is simple – just go straight to the Solent instead of destroying our ecosystem along the way. Alternatively, they could obey the laws in place and travel at six knots until they reach the Solent.
“Rest assured, fines will be levied against those responsible.”
The River Hamble featured prominently in the Howards’ Way TV series, broadcast in the 1980s, which told stories of the yachting and business community in a fictional town called Tarrant.
The River Hamble Harbour board will meet tomorrow with recommendations to approve the proposals.
Photo: River Hamble Country Park