Worries over holiday park

CONSERVATIONISTS are worried a scheme to revamp a riverside holiday park with nearly 100 log cabins and caravans could disrupt wildlife.They fear it will mean more people walking the banks of the River Orwell – causing disruption for over-wintering wading birds and other wildfowl.

CONSERVATIONISTS are worried a scheme to revamp a riverside holiday park with nearly 100 log cabins and caravans could disrupt wildlife.

They fear it will mean more people walking the banks of the River Orwell – causing disruption for over-wintering wading birds and other wildfowl.

But planners say they could help stop such a nuisance by putting restrictions on the use of the new holiday homes to ensure they are not used in winter.

Priory Park Ltd has submitted a scheme to Suffolk Coastal council to withdraw its sites for 120 touring caravans.

Instead it would like to have 65 log cabins and 31 caravan holiday homes on the land running down to the river shore at Priory Park, Nacton.

English Nature has expressed concern any increased occupation of the site through the autumn and winter could lead to an increase in the number of walkers along the shore of the estuary.

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More walkers could lead to an increase in disturbance to wintering birds.

Its fears are shared by the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Unit and the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, which believes the proposal will result in a "significant rise in visitor pressure" on a special protection area.

"The presence of log cabins will lead to almost year-round use, particularly during the late autumn, winter and early spring period, resulting in increased disturbance of feeding waders and wildfowl," said a report to planners.

The groups would like planning permission to prevent occupancy between November and March.

English Nature is also concerned the rough grassland habitat where the caravans will be sited could be home to reptiles such as common lizards, slow-worms and grass snakes, while mature trees to be felled could have bats living in them.

In a report to the south area development control sub committee – which is recommended on March 3 to grant permission for the log cabins – planning officers say Priory Park Ltd would be happy to restrict the season.

The company would prefer to close in January and February, and say only around 20 people would be in occupation in the other winter months at weekends, and not all would venture down to the foreshore.

The applicant also proposed to display signs and information about wildlife and the sensitivity of the area, and considered the impact on the area from additional visitors would be minimal.

Officers are slightly concerned about access to the holiday park, which is along a fairly narrow track and across the A14 via a single lane bridge.

The route also provides access to Orwell Meadows Caravan Park, the Orwell Country Park, Hallowtree Scout Camp and a few homes.

However, they accept prospects for improvements to the bridge across the A14 would appear "very slim" and it was unlikely additional recreation use would fund any significant work.