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Council restricts power kiting.

Byline: Rhodri Clark

BEACH goers are facing new dangers from the rapidly growing sport of power kiting, according to coastal officials.

In just six years more than 4,000 people in Britain have taken up the activity, where a giant kite pulls a person in a buggy or on a surfboard.

But Conwy council is so concerned about the risks of children and adults being struck by speeding buggies or getting tangled in kite lines that it is planning to restrict power kiting along Llandudno's West Shore. This is considered one of the best beaches in Wales for power kiting because the prevailing wind stops kiters drifting out to sea and because Llandudno's main beach keeps most of the holidaymakers away.

A new permit scheme will force power kiters to register with the Conwy harbour office and prove that they have third-party insurance covering at least pounds 1m. Permits to power kite are likely to cost pounds 35 per year or pounds 5 per day.

The restrictions were welcomed yesterday by kite-buggying instructor Adam Jones, president of the North Wales Power Kite Club, who said Conwy's approach was better than waiting for an accident to happen and then banning power kiting.

This had been the outcome at several other beaches, including Pendine and Pembrey in Carmarthenshire.

Conwy harbour master Tony Mead said the activity in isolation had never caused any safety concerns but the situation had changed in recent months because activity at Llandudno's West Shore had increased dramatically.

``Even though they vary in size, the actual kites used are extremely powerful under the right conditions and perfectly capable of lifting the operator off the ground or propelling the surfboard or buggy at high speed,'' he said.

``The sport presents significant potential risks to both the general public and to its participants.''

Kite surfing posed risks to people bathing in the sea or using boats, while there was a danger of people on the beach being struck by a kite buggy.

Mr Jones, who sells power-kiting equipment at his Turbulence shop in Llandudno Junction, said the cost of permits and insurance was insignificant to people who had paid more than pounds 300 for equipment.

``Power kiting without insurance is the same as driving a car without insurance. You might get away with it or you might have an accident the first time you go out,'' he said.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 22, 2003
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