Residents' anger at MoD land plan

PLANS to fence off a large area of Ministry of Defence land in Colchester have met with opposition from local residents.The company extending the existing fence around Middlewick Ranges said the move was to protect members of the public and combat vandalism.

PLANS to fence off a large area of Ministry of Defence land in Colchester have met with opposition from local residents.

The company extending the existing fence around Middlewick Ranges said the move was to protect members of the public and combat vandalism.

But residents, who say their rights to use to land date back nearly 200 years, said they feared the land would become an eyesore.

The 2.4metre high fence will leave the site looking like a “refugee camp”, according to the leader of one local group.


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Dave Smith, chairman of Old Heath residents' association, called on residents to send their views to the borough council.

He said: “It's been arable for getting on to 200 years. It's a major loss of a local amenity - many, many people use it for dog walking, kite flying and just going out for walks. We don't want to lose it.”

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He said it was upsetting the local community was upset at a lack of consultation over the plans.

Mr Smith added: “It will look vile - when we look out of our gardens now it is beautiful scenery. It will be like a refugee camp - an 8ft high, chain-link fence that comes out at an angle with barbed wire across the top.”

A spokesman for Defence Estates, which is carrying out the work for the MoD, said the move was being carried out in the best interests of the public.

“Residents have expressed concerns, but it is being done in the interests of public safety,” he said.

Terry Sutton, Colchester Borough Councillor and former town mayor, said he felt the measure was needed to protect members of the public who continually ignored warning signs.

He said: “We had huge problems with the planning application before - about the recycling plant - but this is entirely different.

“The Army no longer has Crown immunity with regards to health and safety for members of the public.

“What they have is lots of children and dog walkers across, ignoring the warning signs.”

He said that he would prefer the section of the land remained open but was aware that even with existing safety measures in place, somebody crossing could get hurt.

He added: “In the main, you will only see the fence if you are actually on the range yourself. I don't want it on there, and they don't want to build it on there, but there are members of the public that don't care about their health and safety.”

elliot.furniss@eadt.co.uk

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