Environment Agency agrees to controversial otter fence at Manea Pit

PUBLISHED: 11:13 17 May 2017 | UPDATED: 16:23 17 May 2017

Manea Pit. Picture: Steve Williams.

Manea Pit. Picture: Steve Williams.

Archant

Controversial plans to build an otter fence around Manea pit have been given the thumbs up from the Environment Agency (EA) despite large opposition in the village.

Indicative sketch of where the otter fence may go around Manea pit. Indicative sketch of where the otter fence may go around Manea pit.

Manea Parish Council wants to put the fence up claiming the move, which could cost up to £15,000, is essential to protect the pit’s fish and wildlife from a potential otter invasion.

However, the proposal has split the village with objectors claiming the fence will destroy the beauty of the pit.

The council argues the fence will protect the pit’s carp population which generates around £3,000 a year income from members of a carp fishing syndicate which pays for the upkeep of the pit.

Protesters had hoped the EA, which owns the pit but has leased it to the parish council on a 999 year lease, would step in to stop the fence being built.

However, Tony Bebbington, the EA’s estates operations manager for the East, has replied saying he has now reviewed the lease and spoken to operational and legal colleagues about the site in detail.

In his letter to Margaret Williams and Soo Ginnett Mr Bebbington said: “The lease imposes some restrictions on what can and cannot be done with the land, but the general management and control of the site rests with the council for the duration of the lease.

“Having looked at the application, we can see no reason to object or refuse consent to this fence. I will be writing to the council separately to give landlord’s consent.”

Ms Ginnett said: “A number of concerned villagers contacted the EA with our observations as to the inappropriate nature of this proposed fence not only from the financial viewpoint but the impact it will have on the environment and wildlife as a whole. This is the EA’s final word, which doesn’t seem to account for the environment or the wildlife, one wonders what their true function is if not to safeguard areas such as this.”

Manea Parish Council heard the EA’s decision at its meeting on Monday where clerk Terry Jordan said it was agreed to get proper costings.

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