Chris Packham declares war on bid to build climbing wall at a reserve

Chris Packham declares war over bid to build 111ft Olympic climbing wall at a nature reserve as part of £2m plans that will turn it into a ‘theme park’

  • TV host said huge structure would take up green space and increase pollution
  • Managers of the Peterborough park say it would have ‘little impact’ on wildlife 
  • Argue it would help put the city ‘on the map’ by making it a centre for climbing  

TV naturalist Chris Packham has declared war against a bid to build a 111-foot Olympic climbing wall at a nature reserve as part of £2million plans he says will turn it into a ‘theme park’.

The 58-year-old fears the gigantic new lakeside structure will take up valuable green space at Nene Park in Peterborough and force away wildlife because of the air and light pollution brought in by cars.

However, the Nene Park Trust insists the plans would have ‘little impact on wildlife’ because the land it will be built on has minimal ‘habitat value’, while the building design would reduce the amount of light pollution.

The 58-year-old fears the gigantic new structure (seen here in a plan next to Gunwade Lake) will take up valuable green space at Nene Park Peterborough and force away wildlife because of the air and light pollution brought in by cars

The trust’s chief executive Matthew Bradbury said it would one day be ‘training England’s climbing stars of the future for Olympic games’ and would ‘put Peterborough on the map’ for climbing.

However, Packham argued the reserve needed ‘cherishing’ and wrote a letter of objection to Peterborough City Council.

He wrote: ‘I am opposing the proposed setting for this indoor climbing wall that will be open at night and urbanise a precious area of green open space with mature trees, oak meadow and protected rich habitat for wildlife, including bats.

‘British wildlife is in serious decline due to disappearing habitats.

‘Meadows and mature healthy trees need protecting – we don’t have the luxury to be blasé about removing any, no matter how many saplings we have planted as there are no guarantee they will survive.’

However, the Nene Park Trust insists the plans would have ‘little impact on wildlife’ because the land it will be built on has minimal ‘habitat value’, while the building design would reduce the amount of light pollution

Packham also pointed out that the council had declared a ‘climate emergency’ yet was preparing to bring in ‘hundreds of cars’ into an ‘environmentally-sensitive area’. 

In his objection he referred to Ferry Meadows, which is part of Nene Park.  

Packham also pointed out that the council had declared a ‘climate emergency’ yet was preparing to bring in ‘hundreds of cars’ into an ‘environmentally-sensitive area’

He added: ‘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.’

The Nene Park Trust lodged the plans in March last year and so far 355 people have objected to the controversial plans whilst 1,112 objected to a petition, set up by local residents.

The Olympic style climbing wall will be built next to Gunwade Lake in Ferry Meadows, Peterborough and will also include provides facilities for community use.

The surrounding area includes a wide range of natural habitats including wildflower meadows, wetlands, marshes, woodlands and wet grasslands.

These habitats hosts species including kingfishers, herons, otters and grass snakes, as well as over-wintering water birds such as curlew, lapwing, wigeon and gadwall.

The Trust has been contacted for comment. 

A close-up view of the other building that will be built next to the climbing wall alongside a car park 

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