The legendary race horse of the Seventies, Red Rum, exercised on the seven-mile beach at Southport, Merseyside, and thousands of tourists use it every year. But a dispute has broken out over extraction of the sand, which is sold for glass-making, foundries, pipe lining and aggregates and has even been shipped to Saudi Arabia.
Sefton Borough Council earns about pounds 65,000 a year by selling up to 300,000 tons of sand - and claims it has no effect on the local environment. However, opponents of the extraction say it has caused the sand to be overtaken by mud and grasses and should stop before the tourist industry is ruined.
A Liberal Democrat councillor, John Pugh, said: "The vast amount of sand extracted over the past decade correlates with the spread of mud and grasses... No one is sure about the cause and while there is an element of uncertainty surely it would be better not to risk further extraction."
Peter Swarbrick, a council spokesman, dismissed Mr Pugh's claims as "rubbish. The effects... have been going on for hundreds of years," he said. "Added to that, the whole beach area has risen six feet over 40 years, which is a huge amount of sand."Reuse content