Roswell Pit Owner Has Set Up Conservation Group

THE owner of Roswell Pits in Ely – where there has been controversy over plans to develop the site – is sponsoring a new conservation management group for the area, and says it is time to put the record straight . Jeremy Tyrrell says the new conservation

THE owner of Roswell Pits in Ely - where there has been controversy over plans to develop the site - is sponsoring a new conservation management group for the area, and says it is time "to put the record straight".

Jeremy Tyrrell says the new conservation group will try to secure the pit as a nature haven and wildlife reserve, a valued leisure and recreational facility - while still providing private moorings for leisure craft.

In recent months, Natural England has declared the site a site of special scientific interest (SSI).

And East Cambridgeshire District Council has slapped an enforcement notice on the site, ordering Mr Tyrell to stop work, where he had been clearing trees and laying cables, and told him to put the site back to its original state.

Mr Tyrrell has appealed against the enforcement proceedings, and an inquiry is due to be held on Thursday.

In a statement, Mr Tyrell says the conservation management group is being sponsored by his company Jalsea Marine. He also intends to submit a new planning application for the site within months.

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Claiming that the new group would be "guaranteed both independence and objectivity," Mr Tyrrell said: "A lot has been said and written over the last couple of years about my plans for Roswell Pit and very little of it by me. For various reasons I think the time is now right to put the record straight.

"Over the last two years, we have carried out a number of studies and surveys at the Pits: geotechnical, topographical, hydrographical and ecological. As a result of this work we remain convinced that the area can be improved both for its ecology and the benefit of the local community.

"More importantly, the key scientists involved felt strongly enough about it to form their own, essentially voluntary group to champion the improvement of the pit. After considerable discussion, this has evolved into the Nature Conservation Management Group for Roswell Pit (NCMG), comprising of a core group of scientists together with a Steering Committee, drawn from local bodies and stakeholders".

The core group is led by Dr Clifford Stuckey, a leading ecologist based in Biggleswade, Bedfordshire.

Mr Tyrrell says: "The Steering Committee is not expected to meet very often but to operate largely be e-mail and for the moment I am expecting to co-ordinate communication between the members. A number of committee members have been confirmed and approaches made to others. The committee would also like to hear from any other groups wishing to contribute".

"The group is finalising the ecological reports at present and drafting outline design options for the Pits. We shall be making these public as and when they become available and after discussion with Natural England. In terms of overall timescale, we are in discussion with the Country Park consultants, Sheils-Flynn, and are looking to produce a planning application by the end of this year or early next."

On hearing about the new conservation group, a spokesman for the Local Campaigners for the Protection of Rural Ely (LCPRE) said: "It is good that Mr Tyrrell is seeking independent advice on how to manage Roswell. It would be great to hear about the role he sees in this group for the Wildlife Trust, RSPB, Natural England and the local ecologists and naturalists who have been surveying the site over the past few years."

Jim Gammie, from Natural England, said: "Natural England is committed to continuing to work with all of the interested parties at Roswell Pits and meadows to address any concerns raised over the notification and to ensure that the special wildlife and geology are properly recognised in the use and management of the site. As part of this, Natural England will consider any proposals arising from the proposed Nature Conservation Management Group for Roswell Pit at the appropriate time, although any permission is likely to be a matter for the local planning authority.