Sunday, March 13, 2011

Campaign to save Aylestone Meadows wins support from Europa Nostra

Hundreds of people marched (very carefully) through the Aylestone Meadows nature reserve in Leicester this afternoon as part of the campaign against Leicester City Council's plans to build sports facilities on it.

The protest was the lead story on the BBC regional television news this eveneing and the BBC News website says:
Leicester Friends of the Earth spokesman Malcolm Hunter said: "We are all for more sports facilities in Leicester, but there are other places where they could go.

"To put this development on part of the Aylestone Meadows local nature reserve would make a mockery of Leicester's claims to be Environment City," he said.

He said traffic and lighting would cause disruption to the habitat and wildlife, which included herons, bats, kingfishers, grass snakes, badgers and otters.

The project is also opposed by Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust and the Leicester Civic Society.
Meanwhile the protesters have won support at a European level. Europa Nostra a pan-European federation of 250 heritage NGOs active in 45 countries, has issued a letter opposing the council's plans:
To whom it may concern
In 1989, the Leicester Riverside Park won a Europa Nostra Awards Diploma, for the creation of a recreational open space for leisure, sport, nature conservation and educational purposes. Through its Awards scheme – then and still - Europa Nostra promotes best practices in cultural heritage protection and conservation through the ‘Power of Example’, aiming to inspire and encourage others to also cherish and enhance their works of art, buildings, monuments, sites and cultural landscapes.
We also congratulate Leicester on its designation as Britain’s first Environment City and have noted on the city’s ‘Leicester Environment City’ website the following statement as part of Leicester's vision:
Leicester will protect and enhance wildlife habitats in our city and ensure its actions have only positive impacts on wildlife in the wider world.
It has been brought to Europa Nostra’s attention that the Leicester City Council will soon be deciding on plans to introduce a football pitch on Aylestone Meadows within the city’s Riverside Park. Upon our study of the proposed development made available by the city planning department, this football pitch is extensive and includes tall high-powered lighting masts, an additional practice field, a large clubhouse with changing facilities for 10 teams, a broad parking lot, and the whole surrounded by high fencing.
Such a facility will clearly severely affect the park’s tranquillity, its nature and its wildlife’s habitat and night-time darkness, as well as disturbing non football-playing park visitors’ appreciation of the natural riverside ecology and environment, and their other sporting activities, such as walking, jogging and horseback riding - equally valid and deserving of support as is being offered football.
Leicester’s Riverside Park - a natural oasis in the heart of the city – clearly plays a significant role in the city’s ‘Environment City’ image. It is obvious from the intensity of protests against the football project, that the city’s citizens love their park strongly and identify it with the proud environmental image of their city.
We have heard from numerous individuals and local groups, including the Aylestone Meadows Appreciation Society, Leicester Civic Society, Leicester Friends of the Earth, CPRE and the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust, who have officially objected to the proposal and continue to oppose the development.
It is difficult to see how the proposed development can be reconciled with Leicester’s Environment City vision described above, and we therefore support the protests against the proposal to build the football facility on Aylestone Meadows.

No comments: