Cambridgeshire

Chris Packham objects to Peterborough park climbing wall

Nene Park Image copyright Nene Park Trust
Image caption "Leave the habitat the way it is for wildlife and humans alike to enjoy," Packham urged planners

TV naturalist Chris Packham has objected to plans for a climbing wall in a park, saying it will turn the "unspoilt area" into a "theme park".

The Nene Park Trust wants to build a 34m-tall (111ft) centre next to Gunwade Lake in Ferry Meadows, Peterborough.

Packham raised concerns about disappearing wildlife habitats and said the area "needs cherishing", as the Peterborough Telegraph first reported.

The trust said the site was carefully chosen to minimise the impact.

Climbing is one of four new disciplines to be included in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics .

When plans for Peterborough's Olympic-grade centre were submitted to the city council, the trust's chief executive Matthew Bradbury said he hoped the centre would "put Peterborough on the map", and would "one day be training England's climbing stars of the future".

Image caption The naturalist lodged an official objection to the plans

However, Packham, who last year urged people to sign a petition against the wall, has now lodged an official objection on the council's planning site.

In it, he said the climbing wall, which would be open at night, would "urbanise a precious area of green open space with mature trees, oak meadow and protected quality rich habitat for wildlife, including bats".

Image copyright Nene Park Trust
Image caption Climbing will make its debut at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Packham added: "Meadows and mature healthy trees need protecting - we don't have the luxury to be blasé about removing any (in this case 15 and a large area of vegetation) no matter how many saplings we have planted as there are no guarantees they will survive."

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He urged the council to reconsider plans to build the centre "in such an environmentally sensitive area and attracting many hundreds of extra cars into one of the few unspoilt areas of fresh air in the city and low level light pollution".

"Ferry Meadows needs cherishing as a natural place for our children to learn to appreciate nature not an urban hub/nature theme park destroying all it originally set [out] to achieve," he added.

Andrew MacDermott, head of development at the trust, said the activity centre project was "about getting people into the park and actively enjoying it".

This part of the park already had a car park, another building and footpaths, any trees removed would be "doubly replaced" and the "site was carefully chosen to minimise the impact on the environment", he added.

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