ING Restricts Sea Use for Watersports at Hayle


This controversial, and possibly technically misleading, sign greets visitors to ‘The Bluff’; once of the most attractive and popular spots for kitesurfing in Cornwall (some would argue the country).

The bar at Hayle makes the harbour inaccessible at most states of tide (indeed, it is dangerous according to the Hayle Harbour Act 1989) and, despite incredibly low volumes of waterbourne traffic, ING (the Dutch Financial Giant which owns Hayle harbour) has banned the sport, strangely citing reasons for the ban as the potential for ‘kite surfers to prevent safe passage’ of boats.

ING’s tactics

Local kitesurfers report finding themselves unable to negotiate with a monolithic corporation which simply fails to respond to their communications.  They also report heavy handed enforcement of the ban, which extends out to some way to sea.

The critical point for Kitesurfers is that the bay has effectively been divided into two; they can surf one side or the other, but not across the bay: ING also own the channel extending into the bay and will not allow passage across it.

Possibly ownership of the sea is common in Dutch territorial waters? It may explain the strange way in which Big Business has been able to stop public recreation apparently without proportionate justification.

Is It Legal?

Intriguingly, many believe the sign and ING via HHML (Hayle Harbour Management Limited) go beyond their powers in enforcing their ban. It’s also unclear if the sign implies that a criminal offence may be committed.

Hayle Harbour Act 1989

This legislation allows The Company (Hayle Harbour Company Ltd) to make byelaws regulating harbour use. I understand that it is under these delegated powers that the ‘Aqua Planing’ restriction

From my understanding of the document, the consequences of not obeying are ‘summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale’ (which I believe has a present maximum of £1000).

Limits of Jurisdiction

The limits of jurisdiction as defined by the Hayle Harbour act 1989 appear to be as follows (click the image):

Hayle Harbour Act 1989 : Limit of Juristiction

Hayle Harbour Act 1989 : Limit of Juristiction

Hayle Harbour Byelaws 1990

The relevent section of byelaw below (document from John Bennett’s excellent website) appears to be the section repeated below. Given it was drafted before kite surfing existed here as a sport, the wording is ambiguous and I do not see that it would be straightforward to argue that kite surfing is specifically forbidden:

Water ski-ing, aquaplaning,etc.
44. (1) No person shall engage or take part in water ski-ing or aquaplaning except with the written permission of the Company, given either specifically or generally, and only in such areas as the Company may designate and in accordance with such reasonable conditions as may be imposed.
(2) A master, whilst using his vessel for the purpose of towing a water- skier or a person aquaplaning
[aquaplaning, then, appears to be an activity undertaken from a boat: rather like wake boarding], shall have on board at least one other person capable of taking charge of the vessel and of giving such assistance as may be reasonably required during the towing and in the recovery of the water-skier, and shall carry –
(a) For each person on board, a life jacket manufactured in accordance with the appropriate British Standards Specifications or a personal buoyancy aid of the Ship and Boat Builders’ National Federation approved type, two hand-held distress signals and a fire extinguisher;
(b) For each person water ski-ing or aquaplaning, a rescue quoit with line or other sufficient hand-thrown rescue device.
(3) No person shall engage in para-kiting or parachute-towing in the harbour [I understand para-kiting to be a motorboat towing a kite – and does this wording narrow it down to meaning only within the harbour?] without the prior written consent of the Company, given either specifically or generally, and in accordance with such reasonable conditions as may be imposed by the Company. Jet-skis, aqua-scooters, etc. prohibited in parts of the harbour

Read more here:

Hayle Harbour Act 1989

Hayle Harbour Byelaws 1990 (on John Bennett’s