Development will help put county on map

SUFFOLK'S battle over SnOasis has rumbled on for several years, with passionate arguments emerging on both sides of the debate.Supporters of the project - which would be the biggest in the county since the creation of Felixstowe Port - say it would bring unprecedented benefits to the local economy, the tourist sector and would help put Suffolk on the map.

Grant Sherlock

SUFFOLK'S battle over SnOasis has rumbled on for several years, with passionate arguments emerging on both sides of the debate.

Supporters of the project - which would be the biggest in the county since the creation of Felixstowe Port - say it would bring unprecedented benefits to the local economy, the tourist sector and would help put Suffolk on the map.

But its opponents fear roads would become choked with traffic, light pollution from the huge ski slope structure would blight the night sky, rare species would be harmed and the local environment would suffer.


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The arguments for and against reached their peak in April 2006 when Mid Suffolk District Council's planning referral committee backed SnOasis, the adjacent 421-home housing development and the new railway station for Great Blakenham.

And again last year the debate raged when planning inspector John Gray held a public inquiry at Ipswich Corn Exchange into whether the developments should go ahead.

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That inquiry was held after the government called the applications in - giving it the option of overruling the district council - because of their magnitude and potential impact on the Great Blakenham area.

But how did Suffolk find itself at the heart of one of the most passionate debates about development versus the environment of recent years?

Onslow Suffolk spent years searching for a suitable site for a new winter sports complex close to London. The site at Great Blakenham was formerly a quarry and cement works, known as Mason's Quarry.

Onslow viewed the site as an ideal site for such a development and the only viable site it could find in the south eastern region, where the majority of regular skiers live.

The site's classification as a brownfield site, its terrain, which favours the downhill ski slope, and the road and rail access all led Onslow to the view that Great Blakenham was the best location for its winter sports complex.

But little did it know that the presence of legally protected great crested newts, a population of bats and a band of committed local residents would do their best to stand in their way.

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