SnOasis campaigners launch cash appeal

CAMPAIGNERS fighting against plans for a huge winter sports complex in Suffolk last night launched a fighting fund appeal to employ a first class team of lawyers to represent them at the forthcoming public inquiry.

By John Howard

CAMPAIGNERS fighting against plans for a huge winter sports complex in Suffolk last night launched a fighting fund appeal to employ a first class team of lawyers to represent them at the forthcoming public inquiry.

Developers say SnOasis will create the largest indoor ski slope in the world, at the heart of a year-round Center Parcs style family leisure resort focusing on winter sports at Great Blakenham, near Ipswich.

Mid Suffolk district councillors had voted to grant outline planning permission for the huge development during a packed meeting in the village, but the Government has now called the matter in for a public inquiry.


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Keith Willetts, chairman of the sNOasis Concern group campaigning against the plans, is thrilled at the set back to the developer's plans.

But he said: “Getting a public inquiry is only the first stage. Now we have to ensure that the true facts are fully marshalled in front of an inspector.

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“We are fighting many well resourced vested interests and will need to ensure that we have a first class legal team to represent the case against SnOasis, and the related developments.

“That will take a lot of money and today we are launching an appeal for funds to help us win our case.”

Many people fear extra traffic on their roads, light pollution in Suffolk's skies, and that SnOasis will be a blot on the county's beautiful landscape.

But SnOasis has attracted support from those who welcome the enormous boost it will bring to the region's tourism economy, the 2,000 permanent new jobs, and spin-off business for many smaller firms.

As well as the ski slope, there will be facilities for 13 other winter sports, including snow boarding, ice hockey, speed skating, ice and dry climbing walls, bobsleigh and cross country skiing.

There will also be watersports, health and fitness centres, restaurants, bars, casinos, nightclubs, cinemas, and 350-self catering chalets, a 350-room four star hotel and 200-bed hostel. And there will be a new railway station, and many new homes.

Godfrey Spanner, the developer driving SnOasis, said he is committed to the project and his team will make the strongest case possible at the forthcoming public inquiry.

And a spokesman for Mr Spanner added: “The development would create 2,000 permanent new jobs, as well as providing new leisure and recreational facilities for local people.

“It is estimated 750,000 people would visit the destination each year yielding an annual injection of over £80 million into the local economy.”

A spokesman for GO East, the Government Office for the East, said further information is needed on SnOasis and the linked applications for a railway station and housing nearby.

The date for the public inquiry is not known at this stage, but the district council expects to be notified within the next few days.

nFull details of the campaign to raise a fighting fund are on the sNOasis Concern website www.snoasisconcern.com

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