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Cliffe sailing club fears being left high and dry as Brett Aggregates plan to infill sections of Alpha Lake

By Chris Hunter

A sailing club fears losing its home if plans to fill parts of a lake go ahead.

Brett Aggregates’ plan to infill sections of Alpha Lake in Cliffe is being billed as “ecological enhancement” that would see the creation of a shallower lake dotted with islands.

Ideal for birds and invertebrates perhaps, but Blue Circle Sailing Club believes the plan would result in the loss of its home of almost 60 years.

Learning to sale at the Blue Circle Sailing Club. Picture: Richard Lambert

Club chairman David Crowhurst has written to object, saying the club has served the sailing community since 1956 and that the lake, listed as part of the South Thames Estuary and Marshes SSI, has been judged to be in a favourable condition by English Nature.

“We are worried to be told our landlord is planning to accept tunnel spoils and similar materials to drastically shallow the lake over a period of years, the site then becoming a habitat for birds and invertebrates,” he wrote. “The existing RSPB reserves close to us are a welcome feature but we do not see a compelling case for extending them when the alternative is to continue a human activity that promotes important skills and a healthy open-air life.”

He added: “We note that the Screening/Scoping Option request on behalf of Brett Aggregates makes no mention of the longstanding and continuing use of the lake by this club. That is a most regrettable oversight.”

"We shall resist it to the best of our abilities” - club chairman David Crowhurst

He pointed out there are only five other inland water sailing clubs in Kent, and that the lake was the only one convenient to the Medway Towns.

Its loss would be “significantly harmful” he said, adding: “We shall resist it to the best of our abilities.”

Other objectors, including a Mr R.A. Colver, have written to Medway Council’s planning department. He said the lake was also used by the Medway and Gravesend Sea Scouts.

He called the loss of the lake “a disaster,” and said “the material with which Brett wants to infill the lake should be used to reinforce much-needed sea defences. It is folly to waste this material as an infill in this way”.

Brett Aggregates held public consultation over the plan at Cliffe Memorial Hall, Church Street, Cliffe, on Saturday April 26.

The company says it hopes to import materials recovered from river dredging and tunnelling projects, to “further enhance” the disused clay pits.

A statement about the consultation on its website said: “There is currently a shortage of destinations for dredged material and tunnel arisings and we believe our application outlines a feasible way to address the shortage.

“The placement of material recovered from river dredging has been permitted on the adjacent site since the 1960s.”

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