SnOasis inquiry latest: witness probed

DEVELOPERS behind the £300million SnOasis development have questioned the evidence of a key witness brought in to bolster the case against the indoor ski slope complex.

DEVELOPERS behind the £300million SnOasis development have questioned the evidence of a key witness brought in to bolster the case against the indoor ski slope complex.

The barrister working for Onslow Suffolk sought to methodically tear apart the evidence given by planning expert Dr Wendy Le-Las during the last witness statement in the public inquiry into the winter sports project.

Rupert Warren yesterday spent more than two-and-a-half hours probing the evidence given by Dr Le-Las as the inquiry entered its final stages at Ipswich Corn Exchange.

Today, in the second-to-last day of the inquiry, the first of the closing arguments was expected to be presented to planning inspector John Gray.


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During the first part of yesterday's hearing, Dr Le-Las told the inquiry that SnOasis, which is proposed for the former Mason's quarry site at Great Blakenham, would cause long-lasting problems to the area if it failed and would have detrimental impacts on the environment and the local economy.

And she raised concerns about the related applications before Mr Gray - those for a 421-home development adjacent to SnOasis and a new railway station for Great Blakenham.

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After she gave her evidence Mr Warren questioned her about whether she was speaking as a planning expert or as a spokesman for the SnOasis Community Alliance - the group which is fronting the opposition to the three applications at the public inquiry.

And he asked if all the parish councils which were members of the community alliance agreed with all of the points she put to the inquiry. To that question Dr Le-Las responded: “Well they paid me.”

She added: “My job was to represent the multi-faceted concerns of the parishes. In broad terms what I said was to represent the views of the different parishes.”

Earlier in the day Dr Le-Las had asserted that the “SnOasis ski slope would offer nothing that is not available elsewhere” but under cross-examination she admitted there was no single project elsewhere in the country which provided the same facilities.

But she said the downsides of SnOasis were greater than the benefits the project would bring to the area.

Onslow Suffolk has produced studies from economic experts suggesting that the SnOasis development would deliver a huge jobs boost to the county and attract about 600,000 visitors to the ski complex each year.

The planning inquiry is expected to close tomorrow. It is thought the government will rule on the case by the end of the year.

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