Top skiers back new centre

DEVELOPERS behind the £320million SnOasis winter sports complex have enlisted the support of two of Britains top skiing identities in their battle to have the project approved.

DEVELOPERS behind the £320million SnOasis winter sports complex have enlisted the support of two of Britains top skiing identities in their battle to have the project approved.

The developers have teamed up British ski racer Konrad Bartelski and promising eleven-year-old Suffolk skier Alessia Thomas-Jackson in their campaign to convince Mid Suffolk District Council, and the public, to back the project.

Bartelski and Alessia, from Haverhill, met at the proposed SnOasis site, a derelict quarry near Great Blakenham, to discuss the plans to construct 537 homes, a 500-metre long piste, a nine hole golf course, 18 restaurants and an eight-screen cinema in a massive complex on the former Blue Circle cement works.

Bartelski, whose 13-year career as Britain's top downhill ski racer included a World Cup podium in 1981, said: "Alessia recently came first in the slalom at the European Championships and out of the thirty-three events she entered to date in 2004, she has won 31.

"Like many contemporaries of hers, this is a talent that would get a massive boost from a facility such as SnOasis.

"With the proposed 'landmark' construction from Onslow Suffolk, the ski dome will provide huge scope for the training of ski and board athletes to top international competition levels.

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"Added to the huge benefits to tourism, employment and the regeneration of derelict land, SnOasis is clearly a very positive step for the region as well as British skiing."

Alessia added: "I learned to ski on plastic slopes but skiing on snow is so much more fun and for races there is nothing to beat it. SnOasis looks like it's going to make race practice much easier."

Included in the plans for SnOasis are facilities for speed skating, ice hockey, bobsleigh run, ice and dry climbing walls, as well as a cross-country ski track to complement the real snow slope.

Godfrey Spanner, the creator of Thorpe Park and the developer behind SnOasis said: "This major undertaking has already received an investment of over £12 million.

"All aspects of the feasibility including eco and access logistics, have been thoroughly researched and provision for all necessary special features has been made.

"A forty acre section of the 350 acre site for example, has been set aside as a nature reserve."

If approved, the developers say SnOasis would create about 3,000 jobs and attract 1,500 people to the area.

Some residents remain opposed to the plans, which they say would have a negative impact on the area.

Peter Welham, a spokesman for the Suffolk Parish Group, which is leading the charge against SnOasis, said the opponents are eagerly awaiting the release of updated planning proposals for the project.

"We're awaiting to see the amendments to the plans because currently everything is in a state of limbo."

What do you think about the SnOasis proposal? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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