Residents split by SnOasis go-ahead

VILLAGERS living near the SnOasis site are fiercely divided over the development, which they fear could gridlock local roads.

John Howard

VILLAGERS living near the SnOasis site are fiercely divided over the development, which they fear could gridlock local roads.

Shirley Fairburn, chairman of Great Blakenham Parish Council and a resident for 16 years, is deeply concerned about traffic problems.

She said: “I do not understand how the Government can in one breath say we are trying to be environmentally friendly in all we do, how the countryside is important, how we need to cut our emissions, and how we are taxed for cars that emit more than others, and then they pass something like this which will destroy our countryside.

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“The majority of people within the community have their heads in the sand and have no concept of what this is going to mean.

“Generally, the public at the moment think this will be wonderful. But we will be gridlocked and unable to move and have this awful thing on our doorstep. Villagers in other communities have no idea what this will do to their landscape.”

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Debbie Parker, a West Suffolk College NVQ assessor and a Great Blakenham resident for 30 years, is also worried and said: “Five years ago when this was first spoken about it was £320 million and in the last year prices of even half a dozen eggs have doubled.

“I really can't still see this being the same price. The majority of it will be steel, which has skyrocketed in price, and I hope people will not be disappointed when thousands of jobs do not materialise and the ones that do are for the basic minimum wage.

“I just hope that the people who were for this do not think, 'Oh my God what have we done' in ten years' time. People who ski regularly, why would they come here, skiers want the outdoors. I am sorely disappointed.”

Graham Brand, a local businessman and resident who has lived in the Great Blakenham and Claydon area most of his life, said he was disappointed, although not surprised by the news.

He said: “I won't be rushing out to buy any skis and do not think it will be built, not in the current financial climate. What chance is there of this if houses are not now going up?

“Anyone who says they can build anything at present the Government thinks is wonderful, but it will never happen. What really worries me is what may end up being built there, all this decision means is that he can vary his permission and do something else on the site.”

But Roger Mason, owner of the Duke of Marlborough pub in Somersham which is near the SnOasis site, believes the winter holiday complex will provide the same sort of boost to local pubs and hotels that the Sizewell B power station did.

He said: “This is absolutely brilliant. I was dumbstruck when I first heard the news, this has dominated my life for the last six years.

“This is going to be good news for the area. Like so many things you need to have a balance between jobs and the environment. With the state of the economy as it is this will be a great help to see this area through the recession.

“I am very pleased for Godfrey Spanner who has worked tirelessly and been very determined to see this through. I saw the effects that Sizewell B power station brought to all the pubs and hotels.

“The local tourist and hospitality trade will benefit while this is being built and even afterwards. I hope it will bring more trade here and I truly believe this will be good for east Suffolk.”

And Tim Passmore, leader of Mid Suffolk District Council, said: “This is tremendous news for mid Suffolk and the county's economy as a whole, particularly during this very difficult economic situation that we are all going through.

“This will be extremely important, will generate wealth for Suffolk which has got to be welcome. There will be benefits for other businesses, increased tourism.

“This puts Suffolk very firmly on the map. We will get improvements for our infrastructure as well, with new rail and road work on the A14 and A12.

“We will be working very hard with the developer to make sure local people's worries about disruption and noise are addressed as best as is possible. I am delighted it is going ahead, this will be welcomed by nearly everyone in the whole of Suffolk.

“My only cautionary note is that I hope the excessive delay by the Government agreeing with the decision which our councillors took, now well over two years ago, does not mean that the economic downturn causes problems accessing capital for construction.”

Sir Michael Lord, MP for Suffolk Central and Ipswich North, said: “I'm pleased that the decision has finally been taken and I hope it will prove to be a great success.

“I'm very keen on increasing all sporting opportunities and snow sports can be enjoyed by people of all ages. I'm also delighted that it will bring jobs to Suffolk in the present financial climate.

“I've always been concerned about the impact it will have on that part of Suffolk but I trust that everything has been done to minimise that and I'm also very anxious that all the aspects of the development - the railway station, sports complex and the houses - should be constructed in the timescale and to the specification laid down.”

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