SnOasis opponents step up campaign

OPPONENTS of the SnOasis winter sports complex were today preparing to step-up their campaign to have it thrown on to the scrapheap at the all-important public inquiry in Ipswich.

OPPONENTS of the SnOasis winter sports complex were today preparing to step-up their campaign to have it thrown on to the scrapheap at the all-important public inquiry in Ipswich.

The SnOasis Community Alliance was due to launch its counter-argument against developers Onslow Suffolk who want to turn Great Blakenham into an indoor skiing destination.

The alliance, led by barrister William Upton and planning expert Dr Wendy Le-Las, have amassed a team of 13 witnesses across a range of fields in an attempt to debunk the developer's argument that SnOasis presents a unique opportunity to transform the former Mason's quarry.

The first witness they are likely to call to give evidence is Viscount Blakenham, who farms land near the SnOasis site.

Over coming days the alliance will attempt to convince planning inspector John Gray to recommend to the government that plans should be turned down for the £300million leisure complex, which would feature a huge indoor ski slope and a range of other winter sports facilities, as well as an application to build a new railway station in the village and a request from Persimmon Homes to construct a 421-home development in the village.

Today's onslaught from the opponents follows a wave of support for the proposals from sports leaders, key business figures and some residents who yesterday called on Mr Gray to give SnOasis the go-ahead.

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Albert Woods, vice chairman of the British Olympic Association, told day 13 of the public inquiry SnOasis would deliver major benefits to British winter sports.

He said: “This facility will be an absolutely superb facility to inspire participation in one or more of our Olympic disciplines in an environment we have never had in this country before.”

Oliver Jones, chairman of Snowsport GB, which caters for Britain's elite winter sports athletes, said SnOasis would help to create future British world champions.

He said: “The board of Snowsport GB and the coaching staff that we have across Europe can see the immense value SnOasis could hold for us.”

Marilyn Watsham, deputy principal designate at Suffolk College, said SnOasis would deliver a huge boost for the county, while in a letter to the planning inspector, Ipswich sports ambassador Karen Pickering, said it would “put the region on the map as a centre for winter sports excellence.”

The inquiry continues.

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