CAMPAIGNERS were today celebrating after winning a David and Goliath High Court battle.
Arguments have raged over a fence put up at Mistley Quay by company Trent Wharfage nine years ago.
But now a High Court judge has ruled the quay should be “accessible to all”.
It means the fence could finally come down.
Nancy Bell, from the campaign group Free the Quay, said protesters who had fought against the fence were thrilled with the decision.
She said: “It’s brilliant. It’s absolutely amazing.
“It’s been a lot of hard work by lots and lots of different people.
“It’s been a long battle.”
Landowners Trent Wharfage, now called TW Logistics, installed the 6ft high fence in September 2008.
The firm said the fence was necessary, following a health and safety audit, to stop people falling into the water.
Residents argued the metal mesh fence ruined the beautiful view of the River Stour and stopped boats from mooring at the quay.
The Free the Quay campaign group was launched and protests were held at the site calling for the fence to be taken down.
Since then the campaigners have asked for a smaller fence which is “more in keeping” with the area to be used instead.
Essex County Council listed the quay as a village green meaning it should be accessible to all.
But the council’s decision was challenged by Trent Wharfage, which took the case on appeal to the High Court.
Yesterday, following an eight day hearing, Mr Justice Barling ruled in Essex County Council’s favour and said the land must be kept open as it is a village green.
It means access must now be kept open for walkers, those feeding the swans, people crabbing and people accessing their boats.
Mrs Bell said: “This situation could have been resolved so easily by just having a safety barrier there.
“Nothing has ever changed with people using the quay.
“This should never have happened and wouldn’t have if Trent Wharfage was neighbourly.”