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Charity group under fire

PUBLISHED: 15:06 15 May 2002 | UPDATED: 11:55 03 March 2010

A CHARITY group came under fire during a heated public meeting over a proposal to open up the River Stour to full navigation.

The overwhelming feeling at the meeting was the river and its picturesque surroundings – immortalised by the paintings of John Constable and Thomas Gainsborough – should be left untouched.

A CHARITY group came under fire during a heated public meeting over a proposal to open up the River Stour to full navigation.

The overwhelming feeling at the meeting was the river and its picturesque surroundings – immortalised by the paintings of John Constable and Thomas Gainsborough – should be left untouched.

The River Stour Trust called the meeting to set out its stance on the Environment Agency's proposal to open the river to navigation from Sudbury to Harwich at a cost of up to £12.6 million.

Trust chairman Tony Platt said it supported an option included in a major feasibility study carried out on behalf of the Environment Agency.

That would provide for full restoration for navigation with the aid of existing, restored or new locks for craft no larger than originally used on the river. It would allow for powered boats, which were environmentally-friendly, to use the river at governed speeds.

The trust claimed that plan would maintain the beauty of the river, but enhance it at the same time, by providing new ways of seeing the valley.

It is also believed the scheme would attract about 55,000 new tourists each year, providing an economic boost to the area.

But the proposal came under fierce criticism from all quarters during last night's meeting at the trust's headquarters in Sudbury.

The trust's own president John Constable, great-great-grandson of the famous artist, has already criticised the plan, labelling it "totally unrealistic and of no particular purpose".

Suffolk county councillor Selwyn Pryor, from Bures, said: "The idea of navigation is total nonsense and would be money for nothing. It is not practical and may harm some of our most beautiful areas. We enjoy and love the River Stour as it is and it should be left alone."

Karl Mayes, spokesman for the Sudbury and District Anglers' Association, added: "We all want things left as they are. The scheme would mean dredging the river, which would harm spawning grounds and the fish will not be able to breed."


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