Save our riverbank protest against ‘obscene’ plan to fence off Ouse

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A view of the bend in the River Ouse which could be cordoned off – from the existing yacht moorings to the Millennium Bridge. Photograph: Bing maps. Click to see the full image

Protesters will gather next to the Ouse on Sunday (October 19) to proclaim: “Our riverbanks are not for sale”.

Everyone is invited to go along to make their voices heard after York Motor Yacht Club applied for permission to lease 200 metres of the banks of the Ouse from the council.

The protest

  Millennium Bridge, Fulford side

  Sunday, October 19, noon

  More on the York Green Party website

Under the plans, the club would fence off this stretch of riverbank, on the Fulford side of the river, which links the existing yacht club and Millennium Bridge.

There they would build 14 new floating pontoons as moorings, secured by two-metre high green fencing. The club has a long waiting list for new moorings.

The application would involve the removal of at least one tree and the replacement of the current semi-wild riverbank with landscaped moorings and pontoons.

“The application claims that the trees in this area are of ‘poor quality’, but we know that hundreds of local people enjoy this safe but secluded spot – as does a huge range of wildlife including bats, owls, otters and a kingfisher,” said Green Party councillor Andy D’Agorne.

The council is both landowner and planning authority. A spokeswoman told the Press that the council was not proposing to lease the land to the yacht club, and that the club would be “highly unlikely” to get planning permission.

But it is not a foregone conclusion. People attending the Sunday protest are asked to bring their own banners and placards and “share your experience of enjoying the riverbank, wildlife spotted there and how you value public access to the river”.

Residents’ anger

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A view from the other side of the river. Photograph: Bing Maps. Click to see the full image

Here are a selection of comments from people objecting to the plan, lodged with City Of York Council.

“Hundreds of people walk and enjoy the area where the proposed planning is to be built.
To obstruct and wall of the river bank for private use is obscene.”

– Rusti Benton

“I walk my dog here most days and do not want this intrusion into well used and much enjoyed public space. I am also concerned about the fence and possible litter / water level residue becoming a health issue and possibly causing damage to my dog”

– Jennifer McNally

“I object to this application on the grounds of loss of public space, visual intrusion, loss of wildlife and habitat and loss of green belt amenity”

– Peter Brocklebank

“If plans are passed for 14 extra moorings it would: 1) destroy the picturesque down stream view from the millennium bridge and Butcher Terrace side of the river; 2) remove a wildlife friendly environment frequented by many species of wild life including kingfishers and swans also otters which swim upstream past the present moorings to forage under the willows, and 3) take away a recreation area used by many walkers, dog walkers, Anglers and Birdwatchers”

– Susan Birch

“The club has apparently identified the proposed location as subject to ‘numerous cases’ of anti-social behaviour. Having lived in full view of the river for over 40 years, I have observed cycle riding, rope swinging, bathing, camping – including camp fires, drinking and singing.

“Not regularly, and not in a way that has threatened me, my property or caused inconvenience or danger. It could be described as ‘kids being kids’.

“This is a good location for this type of activity, as it causes no harm. Long may it continue”

– Steve Woods

“As a York resident, I expect the council to protect the public green spaces of our city. In what other UK city can one walk by an unfenced river and see a kingfisher, within ten minutes of the city centre?”

– Prof Nicola LeFanu

“The area has had breeding Kingfisher in recent years (a Schedule 1, specially protected
species) and for several years there was a regularly-used burrow among the buttress roots of a
large crack willow, downstream of where the Millennium Bridge now is.

“An absolute precondition of any proposal for change of use should be a thorough ecological survey, carried out over multiple visits in spring and summer, and including invertebrates – the one provided focused on bats.”

– Dr Mick Phythian