Anger over future of golf course

A HISTORIC golf club could close if controversial plans to remove gorse from Suffolk's oldest heathland - funded by nearly �100,000 of public money - get the go-ahead, members have been warned.

A HISTORIC golf club could close if controversial plans to remove gorse from Suffolk's oldest heathland - funded by nearly �100,000 of public money - get the go-ahead, members have been warned.

The Trustees of Rushmere Common want to clear parts of the heath and allow heather and grassland to expand.

But Rushmere Golf Club - which has used the common for more than 100 years - fears that removal of any gorse could have a devastating effect.

Chairman of the Trustees Don Ayre said the work - which will be funded by �99,500 of public money - will restore the heath to its original landscape and will be sensitive to Rushmere Golf Club's concerns.


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But general manager Bob Tawell and club president Terry Mills believe that 80per cent of the gorse could be taken away - leaving the course stripped bare of one of its most beautiful and integral features.

They fear that this could cause people to leave the club and in the worst case scenario lead to its closure, putting up to 15 people out of work and leaving their 600 members with no where to play.

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“Our main concern is that if the gorse is removed then it could lead to the decimation of the course,” Mr Tawell said. “If that happens then there is a real risk that the members will go elsewhere and in the worst case scenario the club will have to dissolve.”

Mr Tawell said it cost the club up to �150,000 a year to maintain the golf course and that it paid the Trustees more than �20,000 a year in rent.

“The golf club does a lot of work managing the heath and I don't think the commoners could afford to do the same without our money.”

By stripping away some of Suffolk's oldest heathland the Trustees of Rushmere Common are hoping to protect it for future generations. Areas of gorse and some trees will be cleared to allow heather and grassland areas to re-establish and expand.

Over time it is hoped natural regeneration and ongoing management will restore an open heathland character at the centre of the common.

Don Ayre, chairman of the Trustees, said he was aware of the controversy surrounding The Rushmere Heath Heritage Project.

“There would be a significant part of gorse taken from the centre of the common,” he said. “We have been very sympathetic to the views of the golf course.

“The impact on the playing areas and the views from the golf course will be minimal. We would obviously be very concerned if the golf club's future viability was affected because that is not our intention.”

Mr Ayre said they had been in discussion with Rushmere Golf Club for three years and only decided to proceed when they said they would be happy to support the bid.

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