Letter: Is our sand the answer to self-sufficiency?

One reader is looking at possible ways the Island can become self-sufficient.

We always welcome a Letter to the Editor to share with readers. If you have something you’d like to share, get in touch. This letter from Lake resident, Ron Chonner. Ed

Dear Editor

I understand that it is the aim of the Council to make the Isle of Wight economically self reliant. May I suggest that in doing so they are missing one very obvious trick?

I refer to the thousands – perhaps millions – of tons of sand lining our coast. Not so long ago this sand was in fact an asset to our economy, in that holidaymakers from all over the country arrived to enjoy our golden stretches of beach.

But this attraction has faded considerably in favour of warmer climes. Even at the height of the season nowadays the number of holidaymakers sunning themselves are sparse in number, with vast swathes of sand left empty and neglected.

End the neglect
The time has come therefore to end this neglect of what is a priceless asset by putting the sand to a different and altogether more profitable use.

It is time, I suggest, to move in the dredgers and the barges and to market our sands to the building trade.

By confining such operations to the considerable off-season period, and where necessary to the early hours, such activity need not interfere with what remains of our holiday trade. While offering at the same time the opportunity of employment to our youngsters.

Possible solutions?
I believe – and here I am open to correction – that such usage has proved difficult if not impossible in the past because of the unsuitability of coastal sand. Perhaps because of impurities, such as the considerable salt content. But such a drawback, if indeed one exists, can in these modern times surely be countered by some chemical additive or other.

In any case, the above is a suggestion only. I look forward with interest to the views of others on the subject.

Image: KenC1983 under CC BY 2.0

Thursday, 7th March, 2013 4:09pm


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Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.


  1. I would suggest that the island is already subject to enough erosion without encouraging or accelerating it by artificially removing material. Even sand dredging several miles offshore is reputed to have complex effects on the nearby coastline, though of course that’s debated between the folk living on a crumbling cliff edge and the company doing the dredging!

  2. What total tosh! Never heard such impractical nonsense. Is it All Fools Day? Having said that, the beaches are the one thing that IWC haven’t sold off. Let’s not give them any ideas.

  3. Janet Scott

    7.Mar.2013 7:26pm

    What a daft idea :) Obviously ‘tongue in cheek’.

    This piece should have been filed under Opinion Piece :)

  4. Bystander

    7.Mar.2013 7:56pm

    The Council would have nowhere to bury their heads though.

  5. steephilljack

    7.Mar.2013 8:02pm

    Yes it is nonsense, perhaps intended ? My understanding is that the shore between high and low water is owned by the Crown Estate, so that would apply to the sand as well.

  6. John Garret

    8.Mar.2013 8:09am

    Our sand IS a vast,underused asset and we ARE striving to become self-sufficient.
    So why is it a nonsense?

    • Because dredging sand affects currents in the water, silt deposits and erosion in complex ways which are unlikely to be beneficial to the island’s geography.

      To be viable, dredging for sand and quarrying for stone tend to be done on a large scale and the government’s position on it is generally “We don’t like it, but it has to be done so we’ll only permit a few large areas and quarry/dredge them to extinction”. Probably the most recent major uproar around dredging is the North Sea area off Great Yarmouth.

      Finally – and we should all remember this as it’s damn important – sand is not a renewable resource. Think of it like stone, or coal, or oil. Sure, the Earth makes vast quantities of the stuff but it does so very very slowly. If we come along and dredge it all up and lock it away in bricks and mortar in our cities then once it’s gone, it’s gone.

      Absolutely no arguments with the notion that the island should strive to be self-sufficient though.

  7. I do not believe it

    8.Mar.2013 9:57am

    I don’t know what Ron Chonner smokes, but can I have some too? Or ii it only available in Lake?

  8. peaceful_life

    8.Mar.2013 11:56am

    A foundation built on sand, ahhh….that sounds familiar.

    Absolutely ludicrous suggestion,long term ecological destruction for short term monetary profit, you see….. the health of the biosphere IS the foundation for a good-healthy life, in fact…it dictates life on this planet.
    Yet……..you suggest destroying elements of it to commodify for an abstract notion of monetary gain?

    Please forgive me, but to any questioning mind… this idea would seem quite insane in terms of self preservation.

    Still, to be fair to you, all you’ve done is highlight what the global ‘economy’ actually is.

    Interesting how your idea is jumped on and mocked when it’s shrunken to the micro of peoples doorsteps though.


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