Centre for ex-servicemen in Fowlers Hill Wood causes controversy

An application to build an outdoor activity centre complete with obstacle courses and paint balling facilities has caused controversy with residents.

Wednesday, 4th February 2015, 8:00 am

The site at Fowlers Hill Wood in Cabus, has been earmarked by charity organisation Our Local Heroes Foundation who want to create an activity centre for ex-servicemen and the public.

The charity has come under fire from residents concerned about the disruption to wildlife within the woodland but the charity claims that on inspection “there was no sign of wildlife [in the wood] what so ever.”

In a Cabus Parish Council meeting, held on January 19, residents raised concerns about the impact on the environment , proximity to neighbouring houses and a lack of public consultation notices received by residents in nearby Snapewood Lane.

Wyre Borough Council have refuted these claims, stating that they “have gone over and above what is statutorily required of them” and have sent out 25 public consultation letters, covering Snapewood Lane, part of the A6 and past Fowlers Hill Lane, while Our Local Heroes state that the centre “will have no impact on anything”.

But the application has led one resident to calling the charity “underhanded” in their application and several residents have dubbed an ecological survey taken over a few days on the woodland claiming it to be “an insufficient duration for the environment in question”.

Objecting neighbour Des McBride, 68, who lives in Snapewood Lane and shared photos of wildlife in the wood, said: “The neighbours went to a parish council meeting and a lot of them were not even aware of the plans, and there was only one neighbour who had got a notification letter.

“I think it has all been done very underhanded.

“The survey recorded that there are no bats in the woodland but there wouldn’t be in November when the survey was done.

“It said that birds wouldn’t nest in the wood either, but I have pictures that shows they do.

“The whole survey was done at the wrong time of year.

“My main concern is the wildlife but don’t get me wrong, I am not against any one trying to do something good and we are not against anything like paint balling but it needs to be done in the right facility.

“There are two ladies I know that horse ride regularly in the wood and the paint balling facility is so close to the path and the noise of the guns is going to scare the horses.

“And the bird shooting that was used as an example of what the paint ball guns would sound like doesn’t take place in the wood it is in the fields and is about two to three times a year not every day of the week.

“Plus any of the paint balling facilities I know, there are toilets and wash rooms but they haven’t been included in these plans so then they would probably have to be built.

“If you give them an inch it’s just going to go further and further.”

Plans for the site, which is just off the A6, include low rope obstacle courses, a paint balling area and a car park for guests with the centre proposed to be open seven days a week 9am until 7pm.

In response to residents’ concerns, chief executive of Our Local Heroes Steve Pearson said: “It won’t have any impact on anything and won’t disrupt anything any more so than people do who walk through the wood.

“The paint balls guns only use compressed air so noise from that won’t be an issue and the centre won’t have any visual impact on properties what so ever. As well as the survey, which I think was done in September, we had also visited the wood in June and July and saw no sign of wildlife what so ever.

“It is a great opportunity for kids especially in this day and age where most just sit in front of a TV, it gives them outdoor activities that they can join in with. We are going to work with schools and there will be a school scheme, there will be a World War One trench replica and activities that will fit in with the school curriculum and their will be free entry for disabled children and disabled access so they can take part.

“The idea is to create jobs for veterans who wouldn’t usually get given this opportunity and putting them in a setting that they are familiar with.

“This has a lot of unique selling points, one being that it will be run by veterans who have actually been in war situations before so will be able to teach kids things such as how to camouflage themselves with foliage for their clothes.

“What we are trying to do is involve the wider community and there is nothing like this anywhere in the area.”

The application is still pending consideration.

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