Victory for Fritton wood campaigners

CAMPAIGNERS fighting to protect woodland at Fritton facing a quarry threat are celebrating a victory after officials voted not to include it on a list of sites required for extraction.

Rows have raged for three years since locals found out there was a chance the haven, popular with walkers, could be bulldozed ending public access and destroying valuable habitats and secret wartime bunkers.

Having won an earlier round campaigners were this week delighted to find themselves in the clear on a crucial second round – but are vowing to keep up the momentum in the face of a possible third challenge from developers.

Keith Nunn, chairman of Fritton with St Olaves Parish Council, said: “We are delighted to have won a further round against the largest independent construction and building materials group in the UK with all their finance and resources.

“It shows that a tiny village can, with determination and hard work, hold off all efforts to change its way of life if it applies itself and works together in a common cause. Quite apart from the village of Fritton with St Olaves a large proportion of Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth residents realised they were losing a considerable part of their only woodland amenity and joined the fight.

“From a village of 200 houses or so a petition of over 20,000 quickly grew. Unable to compete and pay for professionals the villagers drew upon local people who soon produced adequate arguments to match the developers’ hired experts.”

Mr Nunn added that the parish council and an action group formed to fight the scheme had used a considerable range of arguments against the proposed development, from the loss of such a well-used woodland amenity to the preservation of world war two resistance hides and safeguarding of the European protected whorl snail. The effect on nearby Fritton lake drinking water and numerous other dust-related and health worries were also raised.

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However, he warned there was every chance the developers would come back in the next eight-week consultancy period and make minor alterations which campaigners would have to rebel against all over again.

“If this happens, the local groups are ready to join battle again,” he said.

“It is wrong that massive concerns can arrive from elsewhere and endeavour to effect such radical changes to our countryside for minerals that are not required locally. We have further plans and tremendous local determination to meet any new challenge for a third time but we need to encourage people to write in if they support the council’s decision.”

Norfolk County Council’s ruling cabinet agreed on Monday to put forward a list of quarries for the next round of consultation but said Waveney Forest was “not required.”