Earlswood Lakes: how was decision to allow boating made?

Many residents have contacted us about their concerns over recent developments at Earlswood Lakes.

The Council is awarding new contracts for catering at the Lakes, including the reintroduction of boating on the top lake.

Boating was stopped years ago and since then the lake has been managed for wildlife.  It is part of a Local Nature Reserve and Site of Nature Conservation Interest and boating is prohibited by bylaw.

The decision to reintroduce boating was made by the Council’s Property and Regeneration Department, without consulting the public, wildlife groups, the Earlswood Common Management Steering Group or local Councillors.

We understand that the contracts are due to be signed this week.  I am working with others to try to get an urgent review of the potential impacts of boating on the Lake’s wildlife.

Below is an email I sent to the Council’s Senior Asset Manager, on Friday 18 March. Today (22 March) I received this reply, which addresses the general points but doesn’t answer my questions.

You can download the Earlswood Common Management Plan here.

Dear Coralie

I spoke to Cllr Kay and he directed me to email you to provide details that sit behind the press release and decision announcing the use of boats on the upper lake at Earlswood Lakes.

I understand from Allen Kay that this has not had a planning submission as this is considered to be continuation of the current use rather than an intensification of use on this site. Is it possible to please confirm what planning advice was given, and provide details?

I understand also that the decision was under delegated powers, as part of the contract for catering, etc, on the site. Please confirm that this is the case, and if not how the decision was made. Please can you provide details of the meeting at which this decision was made, and on what basis – including what consultation there was been regarding the ecological impact before the decision was made. Please can you confirm what advice the council received externally to inform this decision and the name of the organisation that provided this advice?

Also please could you confirm to what extent health and safety/environmental health issues are covered in the contract and how this and ecological issues would be monitored and enforced.

I understand from Cllr Kay that the decision was wholly made by Property and Regeneration (as opposed to his portfolio) but that the Earlswood Lakes has a management plan which dates from 2013. I understand that the Management Plan does not consider the use proposed for the upper lake. Please can you confirm how this action was considered as consistent with this Management Plan?

Finally, looking forward, please can you confirm what public consultation is planned for the future use of the Earlswood Lakes, including how the proposed activities on the upper lake will operate alongside existing uses?

Many thanks

Jonathan Essex

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  1. Bob Howell
    Posted Tuesday, 22 March 2016 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    I visited today and found the whole site in a terrible state.

    There looks to be a dead swan or large white bird just opposite the new van by the first hole on the golf course, been there for days. The whole area is in a mess, just in the lake behind the van in the water looks like a waste bin alongside a traffic cone! why?. I took some photos of the recent tree that was felled and while it says this was cut down due to fungus the tree looks in good health could this not have been treated.

    I walked around the bottom with a lady who was in a wheel chair who told me she used to like walking around the top lake but now she is in a wheel chair she is unable to get around it as its to muddy.. yet they are spending money widening the path alongside the lakes!. The place looks like a right mess. The guys who ran the other food van looked after the place and made calls and got action when it was needed.

    Lots of my wildlife photographs today are split by the blue boats in the background and I for one am sure the impact of these boats on the wildlife and for the kingfisher I will be awful.

    • Posted Tuesday, 22 March 2016 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

      Hi Bob,
      Did you check if the swan was dead? If not he may need help, please let me know.

  2. Posted Tuesday, 22 March 2016 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    The site has so much wildlife on it and it seems that this is not being considered by those who want to put the boats in. I agree with Bob Howells comments about the trees too, they looked in good health and then they were suddenly chopped down, surely if there was an issue something could have been done to treat them rather than just chop them down. I know there are owls at the lakes, and other nesting birds of course, all of whom would have been affected by the trees being chopped down. It also now opens the lake right up to the road, surely making it more dangerous for wildlife and small children.
    The boats can and will only affect the wildlife in a negative way, surely our beautiful wildlife is far more important than making a bit of money from boat rides at weekends??

  3. Rose burden
    Posted Tuesday, 22 March 2016 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    Why blue plastic pedal boats. I agree be lovely for the children but they could have used a bit more imagination. To many trees have been felled and starting to look Barron I think it is sad that they are commercialising a beautiful nature reserve which I can only think be for commercial gain. I agree that the wild life should take priority.

  4. Ron Howland
    Posted Tuesday, 22 March 2016 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

    First I would like to say about the trees hacked down I was told they where taken down because the roots of the trees were beginning to breach the lake. Don’t know if this is true If water leaks out no lakes. Secondly when boats were on lakes when in the sixtys when I was a lad the wild life was rife so why would it affect it today mind you I think blue boats is bit ott could brought something bit more fitting to blend in

  5. Marilyn
    Posted Wednesday, 23 March 2016 at 1:35 am | Permalink

    As a person who grew up in the area I enjoy returning to visit places of my childhood. I was horrified to see the trees chopped down they were grown there to help with drainage from the bottom lake to stop the many floods that happened in the past. Who ever is in charge of these new ideas has little care for the environment or the people of the area. But still as in all things money talks.

  6. Jean Benham
    Posted Thursday, 19 May 2016 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    I am a local resident and have been for forty years . I was horrified when I visited there this last sunday . Not boats but peddalos !!!!! There were no birds visable on the lake . Not a single nest and no new births what so ever.No tadpoles to see either . My understanding is that the priory was the “pleasure” area and Earlswood Lakes the Nature reserve.

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