Uncertainty' will not help

PUBLISHED: 11:32 16 August 2007 | UPDATED: 12:43 04 May 2010

A LEADING council officer has warned that the uncertainty and lack of action over Roswell Lakes has harmed businessman Jeremy Tyrrell s position. Giles Hughes, head of planning at East Cambridgeshire District Council, claims the situation would have bee

A LEADING council officer has warned that the "uncertainty and lack of action" over Roswell Lakes has harmed businessman Jeremy Tyrrell's position.

Giles Hughes, head of planning at East Cambridgeshire District Council, claims the situation would have been far better if Mr Tyrrell had lodged planning applications much earlier.

"The whole situation has not helped him at all," he said. "The uncertainty and lack of action has harmed his position."

Mr Hughes spoke out as council solicitors decided on a Certificate of Lawfulness lodged by Mr Tyrrell for ongoing work at Roswell Lakes.

Campaigners have complained about work on a service trench carrying electricity and water cables, tree cutting, dredging and clearance operations.

They fear it is putting wildlife at risk and could change the whole face of the nature site.

"We are frustrated," added Mr Hughes. "We are in a vacuum of information. It is Mr Tyrrell's right to judge when best to put in the planning applications.

"We have had quite an impact on getting him to stop work on the site. The work would have been much further on now if we hadn't acted.

"Everything is a bit murky at the moment. The Certificate of Lawfulness will clarify the position in terms of what Mr Tyrrell can and cannot do."

Council enforcement officer, Trevor Eagle, said officers had plenty of meetings with Mr Tyrrell "right from the outset".

"We looked at the worse case scenario," he said. "We looked at what might go wrong next and what could this council, as the local planning authority, do.

"We have nothing to hide. All our records are public records."

If the council were to make a possible error of judgement, Mr Tyrrell could take the case to a judicial review in the High Court.

Mr Eagle added that if anyone were to review the case it would be essential for the council to prove that it had "done its homework".

In the same vein, if Mr Tyrrell makes claims about past history on the site, he has to prove the facts, he said.

But both officers reinforced the message that they can only act within planning law - not within legislation put in place to protect wildlife.

"Everytime there is a change of circumstances at the pits we are investigating it," said Mr Hughes. "We will be monitoring the situation.

"We are taking legal advice. We want to make the right decision."

Mr Tyrrell, whose company Jalsea Marine also owns Ely's Cathedral Marina, said: "We have behaved in a good and proper manner.

"East Cambridgeshire District Council encouraged us, after a lot of discussion, to apply for a Certificate of Lawfulness. In the meantime we are continuing to carry out our estate management work up there.

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