September 21 2014 Latest news:
Saturday, January 18, 2014
Campaigners have delivered a petition of more than 1,000 signatures in opposition to proposals for the future management of a popular area of open space on the north Essex coast.
Tendring District Council (TDC) has been consulting on plans to offer Essex Wildlife Trust a lease of up to 99 years to manage the Naze at Walton. But local users are concerned that the trust will turn the Naze into a nature reserve and limit use of the 45 hectares.
But on Thursday, as the petition was handed to council officers at Clacton Town Hall, campaigners remained unconvinced.
Andy Foster, who is one of the organisers for the Action Against Naze Development group, said: “The land was bought in 1967 by the then Frinton and Walton Urban District Council for the people of Frinton and Walton.
“There’s over 1,000 signatures here each saying we don’t want the land given away. It’s not just dog walkers but the general public. We want it left as it is – a place of open space for everyone to enjoy.”
He added: “Essex Wildlife Trust have said they don’t intend to close the land off but we don’t believe them. They already run a small reserve on the Naze and even though they are supposed to make it accessible, they do all they can to keep people out. We’re afraid they want to do the same across the whole of the Naze.”
Prior to the public consultation, which ended yesterday, the chief executive of Essex Wildlife Trust, John Hall, said: “We know there has been some concern from local dog walkers and we want to reassure them that it is not our intention to stop or restrict people visiting the Naze with dogs – either on or off the lead.
“It is all about working together for the future of the Naze, for its wildlife and heritage, for its importance to the local community of Walton and for the people who appreciate the Naze.”