Cockle safety concern

Lytham cockler Paul Sumner.
Lytham cockler Paul Sumner.

A MULTI-million pound cockle bed in the estuary off Lytham has sparked safety fears.

The bed – said to be worth more than £8m – has only just been revealed to Fylde Council, which announced last month that cockling was returning to the foreshore at St Annes after a 20 year ban.

But it is feared the rich pickings could spark a gold rush – putting inexperienced cockle harvesters in danger.

Long established inshore fisherman Paul Sumner, 50, of St Annes, warned: “It will be like a big magnet in the middle of the estuary and everybody will be determined to get onto it whether it will be open or shut.”

And he said cocklers using quad bikes, taking advantage of a low tide, could be risking their lives.

Called North Gut, the bed is within the limits of West Lancashire District Council across the Ribble Estuary.

It has been closed for a month until October by the Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority which issues the cockling licences.

Full story in this week’s Express.