Lakes visitors voice opposition to plan

PUBLISHED: 14:36 28 June 2007 | UPDATED: 12:35 04 May 2010

ALMOST 80 per cent of walkers, dog-lovers, sailors and fishermen who use Roswell Lakes are opposed to plans to develop the area for a new marina, according to a new survey. The survey, carried out by campaigners fighting to protect the beauty spot, has

ALMOST 80 per cent of walkers, dog-lovers, sailors and fishermen who use Roswell Lakes are opposed to plans to develop the area for a new marina, according to a new survey.

The survey, carried out by campaigners fighting to protect the beauty spot, has revealed only six per cent of those interviewed were in favour of development plans.

Members of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Ely asked scientists from Cambridge University and the city's Anglia Ruskin University to design the survey which showed that 90,000 people visit the pits each year - the same number who visit Ely Cathedral.

The survey results show massive public unease at the proposed developments, claim the organisers.

Ely businessman Jeremy Tyrell has put forward a 10-year vision to create leisure facilities at the site, including a heritage site, moorings and improvements to the sailing club.

"This survey has two important messages," said campaigner Dr Andrew Balmford.

"First, Roswell Pits are very clearly an extremely important amenity for the people of Ely and beyond. The area gives a great deal of pleasure, very often, to a great many people.

"Second, regardless of why they visit the area, those who already use the site are very strongly opposed to its conversion to commercial moorings.

"The Roswell area supports at least one-fortieth of the UK's bittern population. Building a marina at Roswell would, in my opinion, reduce the quality and quantity of their habitat so much that bittern would not persist. In human terms, that would be equivalent to one development evicting the whole of Merseyside."

The survey asked people how their enjoyment of the area would be affected if plans went ahead, and only two per cent said it would increase their enjoyment, while 80 per said it would decrease or greatly decrease it. Almost 500 people took part, including about 70 per cent from Ely. More than half those interviewed gave walking as a reason for coming, with enjoying nature, dog-walking, sailing and fishing other main reasons.

The 20-person survey team monitored the site continuously from dawn to dusk on four days at the end of May and beginning of June, counting visitors, and asking adults to complete a questionnaire.

Despite cold and wet weather on two days, the researchers recorded a total of 1,574 visits by people walking, sailing, fishing and bird watching. This was more than four times the number of visits to RSPB's Fowlmere Reserve over the same days.

"We hope the results will encourage others to join with us in trying to find a better vision for the future of Roswell Pits, one with widespread public support," said Dr Balmford.

He added that anyone interested should view the group's website at www.elywildspace.org.uk.

For more information about the results, contact Dr Andrew Balmford on 01223 336676 or by email at a.balmford@zoo.cam.ac.uk

* WHAT DO YOU THINK? Let us know what you think of the new proposals for Roswell Pits. Write to: the editor, Ely Standard, 38 Market Street, Ely, Cambs, CB7 4LS or email the editor at: editor@ely-standard.co. uk

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