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YMCA Newark and Sherwood commission more ecology surveys as Balderton Lake watersports protesters continue to raise concerns



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Fresh ecology reports are currently underway following campaigner concerns over the YMCA's plans for watersports on Balderton Lake.

YMCA Newark and Sherwood told the Advertiser it had commissioned further surveys to put campaigners' minds at ease despite an already-completed, yet contested, ecology report stating the kayaking and canoeing would have no impact or harm on wildlife.

The YMCA hopes to accommodate small groups of young people on a small area of the lake at select times of the year only and says ecology reports and consultations with the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, community groups and the council had informed every stage of the decision-making process.

L-R Pamela Ball, Leigh Marshall, Phoebe Oldham, 3, Emma Oldham and Nancy Pollard, 5.
L-R Pamela Ball, Leigh Marshall, Phoebe Oldham, 3, Emma Oldham and Nancy Pollard, 5.

Todd Cauthorn, executive director at YMCA Newark and Sherwood, said: “Expert ecologists have assured us that no impact or harm will come to local wildlife through our proposed plans at Balderton Lake.

"However, we are listening to public concerns regarding breeding birds and are pleased to confirm that additional YMCA-commissioned ecology surveys by an external agency are now officially underway. We should have results to share once breeding season has ended to confirm no wildlife will be impacted before we progress.

Balderton Lake protest at the YMCA on Sunday.
Balderton Lake protest at the YMCA on Sunday.

“Our actions to promote wildlife habitats will range from bank enhancements and reedbeds to installing bat boxes to ensure species continue to thrive in harmony with YMCA’s minimal usage.

“Full testing of the water quality and safety was also undertaken in the pre-planning stages of this initiative to address potential hazards. We also scanned the bottom of the lake for potential dangers and no risks were identified that would impact delivery of proposed activities.

“Nevertheless, as a socially-responsible charity we would never pursue any service if there were legitimate dangers. Whilst the thorough testing completed at the site has given us confidence in the safety and suitability of the lake for our proposed activities, we therefore intend to exceed requirements by conducting all testing again before any use to ensure it is still safe and to mitigate any changes over time.

L-R Nadia Ming and David Atkinson of Newark and Wendy Patterson of Collingham.
L-R Nadia Ming and David Atkinson of Newark and Wendy Patterson of Collingham.

“If we understand correctly that the core concerns are the protection of wildlife and the safety of lake users, we hope that our continued sharing of official report results on our website helps to allay concerns so we can move forward positively with enabling young people to safely enjoy and respect nature as much as we do in a safe environment.”

Of a protest against the plans held on Sunday, campaigner Jenni Harding said: “It was wonderful seeing so many protesters, from toddlers to seniors, all wearing green, blowing bubbles, singing and chanting.

L-R Jean Hall, Kathleen Jarman and Jenni Vaughan of Balderton.
L-R Jean Hall, Kathleen Jarman and Jenni Vaughan of Balderton.

"Just because a huge sports amenity has been built by YMCA and the local council, they should take into account residents' views and concerns, when expanding something that isn't even finished yet.

"The kayaking proposal on Balderton Lake is unnecessary and is likely to be dangerous. It also isn't needed, especially when the Sea Scouts have the same watersports offering on the Trent nearby at Farndon.”

It should be noted there is nothing evidencing the campaigners' concerns that harm will be done to wildlife as a result of watersports on the lake.

The results of the further ecology surveys will be shared once breeding season has ended.



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