THIRTY-ONE boats are to be moved from Shoebury East Beach as part of the operation to clear explosives from the sand.

The beach has been temporarily closed by Southend Council to allow the Ministry of Defence to clear the beach of unexploded ordnance after live bombs were found.

The area is considered so dangerous, the council says owners of boats kept on dry ground over the winter must not use the slipway on the beach to launch their boats.

Instead, the council is to hire a crane and trailer to transport the 31 boats to another area.

Angry boat owners believe it would be perfectly safe to use the concrete slipway at high tide.

One boat owner, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “We were just two days away from casting off for the season when this all kicked off. We are keen fishermen, but because we are stuck here the best part of the fishing season is getting away from us.

“It is such a shame as it was so close to us setting off, but now it is actually going to end up costing Southend Council a lot of money.

“The handling of the situation has been a bit over the top as we did ask if we could go off when the tide is high, but were told we couldn’t, yet the council and MoD are just dragging their feet around. It is a mess.”

Independent Shoebury councillor Mike Assenheim said: “I have asked how much this is all going to cost. I’ve spoken to the boat owners and they are not very happy about it all.

“The closure has been very inconvenient for everyone.”

Scott Dolling, interim head of economy, regeneration and tourism, said: “We have been in discussions with the boat owners since the temporary closure of the beach was introduced, as they will not be able to launch from their current position until the beach is re-opened.

“We understand this is an inconvenience, but public safety must take priority. One option that we have discussed with them is to move them to an alternative location and allow them to launch from there.

“We are looking at locations, awaiting quotes and considering the discussions with the MoD before making a final decision on this course of action.”