Wrangle over path around lake

SUPPORTERS of a project to install a path around Backwell lake have hit back at claims it will spoil the beauty spot.

There is currently no path around the lake making it difficult for people with wheelchairs and pushchairs to use, especially when the grass is wet.

Backwell Access Group (BAG) has applied to the Big Lottery Fund for a grant to install a path around the site, which is owned by Wessex Water, but the project has come up against opposition from a handful of environmentalists and walkers.

In a letter opposing the application, Vivian Parsons, a health walks leader from Nailsea, said: “A great many of our walkers suffer from hip, knee and ankle problems and their favourite places to walk are on grass where the surface is soft and therefore doesn’t aggravate their problem.

“There are few areas in Nailsea where we are able to walk on grass and it will be disappointing to see that even this walk will soon be on a hard surface, urbanising the beautiful open area.”

But members of Backwell Access Group say the path will help to protect the area from erosion and enable more people to access the popular attraction.

Speaking at Nailsea’s planning and environmental committee meeting on Wednesday, Alison Morgan, who is spearheading the project, said: “We understand some people have reservations about the path but we want to assure them that we are not unsympathetic to wildlife and we’d just like to have the same opportunities to enjoy the site as able-bodied visitors.

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“We’ve been working closely with Backwell Environment Trust and Wessex Water to ensure the path is the least intrusive to wildlife and we certainly do not wish to see the place turned into an urban park.

“Some of my friends have nearly slipped into the water in their wheelchairs and had to be rescued by paramedics and they haven’t used it since.

“If a site is open to the public it has to be accessible to all. The only alternative to this would be to close the site to everyone which we don’t want to see. We also don’t want to go down the route of legal action.”

Mrs Morgan confirmed the information boards around the lake will be improved so visually impaired users can read them and they will also be at a height accessible to all.

BAG is also applying for a second grant to improve the car park, which is riddled with potholes.

The committee agreed to recommend approval of the application with a proviso that the grass cutting by Wessex Water is maintained at its current level, or increased, so the site remains accessible for all.