Pits protesters' fury as MP backs project

PUBLISHED: 11:46 23 August 2007 | UPDATED: 12:46 04 May 2010

WILDLIFE campaigners have reacted furiously after MP Jim Paice backed businessman Jeremy Tyrrell s bid to develop Roswell Pits. Mr Tyrrell owns the site and is awaiting the council go-ahead to allow boats to use and temporarily moor there. He has applied

WILDLIFE campaigners have reacted furiously after MP Jim Paice backed businessman Jeremy Tyrrell's bid to develop Roswell Pits.

Mr Tyrrell owns the site and is awaiting the council go-ahead to allow boats to use and temporarily moor there.

He has applied for a Certificate of Lawfulness which, if granted, would mean he had the legal right to push ahead with his plans.

In a column in this week's Ely Standard (see Page 13) Mr Paice has said he is prepared to act as an "honest broker" and help move plans forward.

The South East Cambridgeshire MP also said he was amazed at the capacity of wildlife to live alongside people and traffic.

He also doubted that Mr Tyrrell would need planning permission and said he had every right, within the law, to make money from his property.

Mr Paice's comments come just weeks after the Liberal Democrats launched a petition calling on the district council and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds to preserve the site as a public nature reserve.

Lib Dem councillor Sue Austen said: "Mr Tyrrell is continuing to push through with his plans and what happens if the Certificate of Lawfulness is rejected? The damage will already be done.

"Local people are outraged at the works being carried out and the lack of consultation about plans for the site. Mr Paice doesn't seem to realise that the lakes are not free flowing so the pollution just stays around."

A spokesman for the Local Campaigners for the Protection of Rural Ely said: "We are disappointed in Jim Paice. Many of us did indeed look to him - as he says - as an 'honest broker'.

"What chance of that now? He has chosen to make his own opinions clear at a time when the people of Ely still have not seen the plans promised by Mr Tyrrell so many months ago, or had them considered by our elected members.

"But Mr Paice couldn't wait to take sides. So much for an honest broker.

"Much of what he says today is misleading. He says the pit in question is only one pit, as if we are talking about the Norfolk Broads. There are only three pits. We are talking about the largest pit - the 'eyesore' which thousands of his constituents enjoy, which forms the cornerstone of the County Wildlife Site, and which is home to extremely rare and sensitive species like otters, water voles and bitterns.

"Mr Paice says that left to itself nature always wins. Actually, left unprotected nature often loses out to man.

"Most seriously, he seems to think that it is wrong for a democratically-elected council to risk public money in the pursuit of trying to enforce its own planning decisions.

"Taken to its logical conclusion, this craven attitude would allow the destruction of all that makes Ely a beautiful place.

"He seems to think it would be better to just give up. We don't, and will continue our fight to save Roswell Pits.

"Our main concerns are Mr Tyrrell's ambition to build a hotel and business complex on the site and his intention to have a barge that boaters to empty chemical toilets into."

Mr Tyrrell said: "We are carrying out works management on the site which hasn't been done for 20 years. As far as we're concerned, we're not damaging wildlife and ecologists agree. These are just wild accusations.

"I think it is very constructive and responsible of Mr Paice to say he is prepared to be an 'honest broker'"

To find out more about the Liberal Democrat's petition, go to www.elylibdems.org.uk or telephone 01353 665882.

INFO: See the full transcript of Jim Paice's column on Page 13. Also, let us know what you think about this development. Write to: Ely Standard, 38 Market Street, Ely, Cambs, CB7 4LS or e-mail editor@ely-standard.co.uk

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