A charity dedicated to protecting whales and dolphins has been told it cannot berth its boat at Ryde Harbour — because the space is needed for tourists.

Blue Seas Protection – which has actor and television presenter Joanna Lumley as its patron – had bought and equipped a campaign vessel which it hoped to berth alongside its existing boat.

The chair of the charity said the adjacent berth had been empty for four years, but they were denied permission to use it.

Gary Oates added:

“We now have to tell our patron Joanna Lumley, and the Duke and the Duchess of Sussex — who have said they may visit us when they come to the Island — we won’t be able to carry out the important work of marine conservation and marine extinction from our new berth in Ryde harbour.

The Isle of Wight Council says the space was needed during the peak summer season for visitors.

A spokesperson for the local authority said:

“Berthing of the vessel in the area proposed would impinge on the movement of adjacent vessels.

“While a permanent berth is not currently available, should one become available then we will contact Blue Seas Protection.

“A winter berth has been offered to Blue Seas Protection, although it would not be available until November 1 and would need to be vacated by March 31 next year.”

The council said it was still awaiting a response to the offer.

Gary Oates said:

“This is sad for Ryde town, the Island, and tourism.

“We feel  upset and are being discredited by staff within the council who don’t know what a great of any opportunity this is for the Island.

“Most importantly, 10,000 dolphins and whales have died in the last three months within 100 miles of the Island.

“We have to attempt to stop it.”

Megan Baynes, Local Democracy Reporter.