Fears over picturesque river

FEARS are being voiced that opening up a picturesque river to motorised vessels could be unacceptable to those who currently enjoy the area.In a report going before councillors this week he claims the proposed multi-million pound restoration of locks along the River Stour could compromise the character of the valley immortalised in the paintings of John Constable.

FEARS are being voiced that opening up a picturesque river to motorised vessels could be unacceptable to those who currently enjoy the area.

In a report going before councillors this week he claims the proposed multi-million pound restoration of locks along the River Stour could compromise the character of the valley immortalised in the paintings of John Constable.

Neil Greig, head of planning policy at Babergh District Council, suggests members should vote instead for a smaller scheme, which would be beneficial to canoeists and users of other light crafts, when they discuss the matter on Thursday.

His warning comes after the painter's great-great-grandson, also called John Constable, described a "nightmare scenario" if full navigation along the Stour Valley and out to sea was given the go ahead.

President of the River Stour Trust, Mr Constable suggested it could lead to high levels of traffic on the waters and see the area become increasingly like the Norfolk Broads.

But officially the trust is backing a £9.3 million plan, one of four options put forward by the Environment Agency, to completely open up the waterways.

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Spokesman Lesley Ford suggested motorised craft would only be allowed to use certain sections of the river and dismissed fears such a move would be detrimental to wildlife.

"The restoration of locks will bring the river back to what it was in the days of our presidents' great-great-grandfather," she said.

"A narrow, one-metre deep channel would be needed in the centre of the river, but there would still be shallows on the edge to support fish breeding and plant life."

A final decision will be made by the Environment Agency in the coming weeks.

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