Businessman is quizzed over his plans for Lakes

PUBLISHED: 11:41 14 June 2007 | UPDATED: 12:32 04 May 2010

BUSINESSMAN Jeremy Tyrrell stunned a packed hall of protestors on Tuesday night when he indicated that he might be prepared to put Roswell Lakes up for sale. The meeting was called after Mr Tyrrell, whose company, Jalsea Marine, which also owns Ely s Cath

BUSINESSMAN Jeremy Tyrrell stunned a packed hall of protestors on Tuesday night when he indicated that he might be prepared to put Roswell Lakes up for sale.

The meeting was called after Mr Tyrrell, whose company, Jalsea Marine, which also owns Ely's Cathedral Marina, was ordered to stop work on the lakes by planners last week and reveal his ideas for the area.

Prospective buyers for the city's beauty spot were among more than 400 people who crowded into Ely Community College to push for the wildlife site to be protected.

Representatives from a number of organisations, including the RSPB and the Wildlife Trust, pledged their support to safeguard animals and birds on the site.

Mr Tyrrell was asked by one member of the audience whether he would consider selling the site and he replied "possibly".

Immediately campaigner Andrew Balmford, a member of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Ely, offered to lay down £1,000 to start a community fund to buy the lake.

He said: "There was the mention of a possible buy-out and there were buyers in that audience. Mr Tyrrell said he may sell the land and I offered £1,000 there and then.

"The meeting was fantastically useful. There was a sense of people being deeply concerned about what is happening at Roswell Lakes.

"People spoke about the idea of an alternative location for boat moorings or a marina in a less sensitive location.

"Now we want to see a broader public discussion about the face of this whole area. We want constructive, imaginative, joined up thinking. This should not be dealt with piece by piece over the next 20 years."

A recent survey by the CPRE proved that Roswell Lakes is visited as often as Ely's world-famous cathedral with around 90,000 people going to the pits every year.

They also draw double the numbers who visit the long-established wetland reserve, Wicken Fen, and almost as many asthe RSPB's top UK reserve, Minsmere in Suffolk, the survey revealed.

"Plans to put motorised boats on the lake would make a few people happy and one man very rich," added Mr Balmford. "But in terms of visitors lost it would be like evicting the whole of Merseyside."

Mr Tyrrell told Tuesday's meeting that he plans to put his first planning application for the lakes into East Cambridgeshire District Council in two weeks time.

Council head of planning Giles Hughes said: "We have to deal with this on its merits. We have to be careful not to prejudge the application."

Mr Tyrrell has offered to give protestors a full presentation of his plans at a future meeting.

A website will be online in 10 days giving information about developments at Roswell Lakes and the campaign to protect the area. It can be contacted at www.elywildspace.org.uk

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