Residents chant ‘leave our lake alone’ in protest against watersports on Balderton Lake

todayJune 12, 2022 1

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Protestors demanded a popular Nottinghamshire lake was ‘left alone’ during a demonstration against plans to bring watersports to the site. More than 50 people gathered outside the YMCA Activity Village in Newark to raise awareness of the number of green spaces lost in the area and to object to the YMCA’s plans for watersports on Balderton Lake.

The peaceful protest was organised by the group, Protect Newark’s Green Spaces, and lasted from 1pm until 2pm on Sunday, May 22. All of the protestors were united by the colour green in not just their clothing but their face paint and accessories.

One of the organisers, Emma Oldham, began the protest with a speech before the protestors began marching and chanting “green spaces mean happy faces” and “seave our lake alone” outside the YMCA. Emma said: “It’s absolutely clear we are fed up with losing our green spaces. Balderton Lake is one of the last wild refuges we have left.”

Read more:Balderton Lake meeting starts cordially but ends with a commotion

Plans proposed by the YMCA would see almost 20 boats on the lake, which the protestors fear will be in close contact with habitats of nesting birds, which could result in them abandoning their nests and having no local sites for the species to relocate to. Many local residents described the lake as a “safe haven” during lockdown and said the lake really helped their mental health.

Organiser Emma Oldham with some of the younger protestors
Organiser Emma Oldham with some of the younger protestors

Fellow organiser, Sam Farrell, explained that they needed to bring the protest to the YMCA’s door to show them how the community feels, as recent developments in the area seem to be enclosing on that one space. She said: “It’s really important that we protect that space. This is a lake that is in the middle of a housing estate that is cherished by so many people.”

A petition against watersports on the lake has garnered thousands of signatures, and, despite protests occurring, emails being sent, and residents regularly attending council meetings, the protestors feel that they are being ignored by the Balderton Parish Council and YMCA.

Jean Hall taking part in the protest with her sign
Jean Hall taking part in the protest with her sign

Emma added: “Balderton parishioners are desperate to be listened to, so far they’ve received very little dialogue and poor consultation. Both the YMCA and Balderton Parish Council have a lot to answer for, leasing the lake to the YMCA for just £10,000 for a decade of use; where was the consultation?”

Balderton Parish Councillor Ronnie White said: “I would like to reassure local residents that the Parish Council agreed to the proposal in principle back in 2017 and it has not been ‘rushed through’ which I understand has been reported.”

Councillor White continued: “This item had appeared on 10 separate Parish Council meeting agendas between April 2017 and October 2021. This is in addition to a number of internal meetings and a separate public meeting hosted by the YMCA in April 2019.”

Jenni Harding protesting watersports on Balderton Lake
Jenni Harding protesting watersports on Balderton Lake

Local resident, Jenni Harding, said: “It was wonderful seeing so many protesters, from toddlers to seniors, all wearing green, blowing bubbles, singing and chanting. 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.

Jenni continued: “The kayaking proposal on Balderton’s Lake is unnecessary and is likely to be dangerous. It also isn’t needed, especially when the Sea Scouts have the same water sports offering on the Trent nearby at Farndon.”

Due to the concerns of safety and wildlife the YMCA is conducting more surveys and reports to ensure that the lake is safe. Todd Cauthorn, executive director at YMCA Newark and Sherwood, has said: “Full testing of the water quality and safety was also undertaken in the pre-planning stages of this initiative to address potential hazards.”

Protestors wore green to show their support
Protestors wore green to show their support

He continued: “We also scanned the bottom of the lake for potential dangers and no risks were identified that would impact delivery of proposed activities.” In addition to this, the YMCA said they have been assured by expert ecologists that no impact or harm will come to local wildlife through its proposed plans for the lake.

Todd added: “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.”

Written by: thehitnetwork

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