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12:02 PM 11th July 2020

Cowden Beach Closed For Safety Reasons

The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) and the British Army have temporarily closed a section of Cowden Sands beach to protect the public from the risk of unexploded ordnance (UXO).

Clearance work to remove unexploded ordnance is taking place to protect the public. MOD Crown Copyright.
Clearance work to remove unexploded ordnance is taking place to protect the public. MOD Crown Copyright.
This part of the beach will be temporarily closed from 13 July to 14 August to protect the public whilst UXO is cleared.

RAF Cowden was used as a bombing range from 1959 to 1998. Over the years it has been subject to extensive coastal erosion which leaves UXO on the beach. To date, relatively small amounts of UXO have been left and the MOD has removed it with minimum disruption to public access to the beach.

However, recent erosion has revealed UXO which is now appearing on the beach more frequently and in larger amounts. As MOD’s first priority is to ensure the public’s safety, we will be undertaking a UXO clearance programme as a matter of urgency. Signs and red flags will warn the visiting public which area of the beach is closed.

Clare Hetherington, DIO’s Principal Estate Surveyor for the North said:

“Due to recent weather and tidal events, a significantly larger amount of unexploded ordnance has been uncovered on Cowden Sands.’’

“We have worked with the Crown Estate and local councils to close the beach. Until this work takes place, we remind the public that they must avoid the beach whilst it is temporarily closed. Unexploded ordnance is dangerous and should not be touched or removed as it can cause serious injury.’’

“This temporary partial closure, whilst regrettable, is needed to protect the public. It will be our priority to reopen the beach when the immediate risk to the public is reduced.’’

It is an offence to pick up military materials from the beach under the RAF Cowden Byelaws 1977. If you find UXO or witness a member of the public handling UXO, please do not attempt to move it and contact 999.