A BEACH was cordoned off and bomb disposal unit put on alert for an unexploded mine which turned out to be a flower pot.

Southend Coastguard scrambled to the scene to make sure the public were safe but discovered a barnacle covered flower pot instead.

The call was made with good intentions and an area of the Old Ranges in Shoebury was shut off after a dog walker found the football-sized item half buried in mud on Monday.

Pavlo Bubela from Maya Close, Shoebury, reported his find to coastguards on Tuesday after realising it could be a bomb.

Mr Bubela, 50, said: “I’ve got three dogs and was walking them along the beach near Gunners Park. We went out to where there is a dip where there is always water so they could have a splash.

“I was about a mile out and on the way back I saw this big metal ball and thought it was a bit odd.

“I went home but then the next day I thought I would go back and take pictures. By then I thought it could be a mine so I reported it to the coastguard.”

Mr Bebela added: “The thing was football-sized and covered in barnacles. The coastguards came down and wouldn’t let anyone near it. No one was allowed onto the beach there.”

A spokesman for Southend Coastguards said: “We were called to this but it turned out to be a large round flower pot. It was very large and overturned.

“We always call ordnance disposal to these incidents but we have also have our own coastguard rescue team and we were able to establish what it was before they came.

“To be fair, the way it was lying it did look very much like a mine.”

The Old Ranges are owned by the Ministry of Defence and are supposed to be off limits to the public due to the risk of unexploded ordinance from weapons testing.

The possibility of sweeping the area to remove all the ordnance has been raised in the past but dismissed as being prohibitively expensive so it remains a restricted area.

Dog walkers continue to access the area however, particularly when dogs are banned from East Beach during the summer months.

The restricted areas have become known locally as dog beaches.

A spokeswoman for the Qinetiq, which runs the nearby New Ranges Ministry of Defence site, said: “We try to discourage access but people are always going to trespass.

“The worst offenders are bait diggers who use metal forks to prod the mud. We do patrol the area but people can get quite cross but we do know the area and is definitely a high risk area.”

She added: “The stretch of foreshore between East Beach and the Ness Road slipway known as Old Ranges is still part of the MOD estate and Range Sea Danger Area. The presence of unexploded ordnance on this part of the foreshore is a known legacy of the historic use of the area and that’s why public access is prohibited at all times.

“In particular, trespassers that conduct intrusive activity on the foreshore, such as bait digging, are putting themselves and potentially, others at risk.”