Wednesday 22 May 2024
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‘Mini Center Parcs’ could spoil tranquil Nottinghamshire lake, say residents

There are calls to halt plans for a Nottinghamshire ‘wildlife jewel’ being turned into what some critics say will be a ‘mini Center Parcs’.

Some Newark residents who live near the Balderton Lake beauty spot have been left “anxious and upset” by plans to allow kayaks and canoes there.

The YMCA and Balderton Parish Council revealed plans to build a launch dock for boats at Balderton Lake, to be used as part of the YMCA Community and Activity Village site, which is set to open in spring 2022.

Footpath around the lake C Karen Callingham
Footpath around the lake © Karen Callingham

A new campaign group, Save Wildlife and Nature (SWAN), is opposing the plans.

Up to 16 kayaks could go out at one time, which SWAN says could cause “significant disturbance to the birds during the breeding season”.

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A YMCA spokesperson said the agreement details with Balderton Parish Council are being finalised.

BCP sign at Balderton Lake C Karen Callingham
BCP sign at Balderton Lake © Karen Callingham

Emma Oldham, who set up a petition against the plans which has gained hundreds of signatures, said the area is home to kingfishers, egrets, grass snakes and bats.

She said: “Residents are absolutely devastated at the thought of Balderton Lake becoming a mini Center Parcs on their doorstep.

“There is real anxiety and upset about this.

“People go to the lake to enjoy the birdlife. It is such a magical place.”

The conservation biologist added: “That lake helped me a lot of times when I was very stressed.

“I can’t imagine it being blasted with boats and kids.

“There’s not many places left in Newark that are as tranquil as that. You go there to get away from the hustle and bustle.”

Once opened, the Activity Village will run activities to “advocate inclusion by empowering young people, especially those who are vulnerable or from disadvantaged backgrounds”.

Resident Jane Buxton, who is part of SWAN, said she first found out about the plans in October 2021.

She said: “The lake was a lifeline for people during Covid.

“It is not an adventure park, there are so many protected species and we want to enhance the wildlife there.

“We don’t disagree with them [the YMCA] coming to the area if it doesn’t have an effect on the environment.”

Todd Cauthorn, Executive Director at YMCA Newark and Sherwood said: “We have a deep respect for protecting wildlife in Newark and YMCA has taken every due diligence to ensure all plans remain considerate of the environment as a key priority throughout this project.”

A public consultation had been held, he added, and the Wildlife Trust was consulted to ensure activities would be in keeping with conservation standards.

He added: “Responses have given us confidence that wildlife will not be harmed by our charity’s proposals, which focus upon adding to the community’s strengths by enabling young people from all backgrounds to enjoy nature while learning how to respect it.

“We met with members of SWAN and were awed by their passion for the lake, with many of their ideas matching up with projects that YMCA will want to work on in collaboration with Balderton Parish Council and community groups.”

A spokesperson for Balderton Parish Council added: “The Parish Council believes, and has been reassured by an ecological survey that was undertaken, that allowing the YMCA to provide supervised kayaking and canoeing at Balderton Lake will not be detrimental to the wildlife there that it has worked hard to encourage.

“Members of the Council consider that the enjoyment of this beautiful facility will not be compromised.”

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