I need an ecologist / help on lake access

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TomJ
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I need an ecologist / help on lake access

Post by TomJ »

I am currently trying to make the case to my university that the new lake development they've constructed can be used for kayaking and canoe polo training sessions. The lake is 10 hectares in size (over a kilometer long and a couple of hundred meters wide at the widest point).

They first told us that the lake was too deep and people could drown. We explained we're white water kayakers and not incompetent, and so they dropped this one.

They then told us that the water was too dirty, however after I accessed a report on the water chemisty, they dropped this one too (I strongly suspect they had no idea what the water quality was)

They are now telling us we would pose a threat to wild life, particularly 'rare birds'. What I've told them in response is that we want to use around 10% of the lake at maximum, for around three hours per week, launching on an area of bank that has no plant life and is next to a bus stop and a road and would be willing to stop the activity during the spring period so as not to interrupt breeding. They have now contacted an ecologist who I strongly suspect is going to back up their opinion that, regardless of the benefit to us and the fact no evidence has been presented to us so far on the damage we might cause, the damage to the wildlife is just too great. Can anyone offer anything I could use to help to counter this?

To give a bit of background, the lake is not a special area of conservation, has a bus route running along its entire length, has not been populated with fish life and is sparsely populated with a few ducks.

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Adrian Cooper
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Re: I need an ecologist / help on lake access

Post by Adrian Cooper »

Maybe you need a PR consultant. The local papers might help make a bit more of the issue and the authority's intransigence.

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TomJ
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Re: I need an ecologist / help on lake access

Post by TomJ »

We have thought about going to the press and are going to do so if they refuse to compromise with us. We're into our 5th week of negotiations!

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shanclan
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Re: I need an ecologist / help on lake access

Post by shanclan »

If you are a member try contacting the BCU/ Canoe England. They have an access team and press office for just this sort of thing.

They should be able to provide some positive examples on how the University would benefit by providing access as well.

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Jim Pullen
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Re: I need an ecologist / help on lake access

Post by Jim Pullen »

This is a uni with a duck of the day website! This shows where kayakers come in the pecking order!
Done any NE/NW rivers not on the site? PM me!

The Chuckster
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Re: I need an ecologist / help on lake access

Post by The Chuckster »

If their ecologist comes back advising against paddling - ask what evidence they have to back it up - in a similar way lecturers critique your work! Tell them their report wouldn't pass if it was an assignment!

Maybe inform them you have every intention to paddle on the lake and the benefits for it (taster sessions/polo benefits I presume?) and ask what you need to do to change their mind!

tomcorden
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Re: I need an ecologist / help on lake access

Post by tomcorden »

Is that the lake on the normal york uni campus that goes round from the sports centre to the bit with the big fountain? or a new bit?
They used to have kids sports camps there in the summer and I taught the canoeing bit for 3 years, we also had some slalom gates on the narrow bit by the sports centre for two years, this was around 90-93. No one ever drowned then, or caught any dodgy diseases.

tom

Quinny
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Re: I need an ecologist / help on lake access

Post by Quinny »

This is the lake on new campus we're trying to gain access to. The old lake is long been resigned to a death by wildfowl "residue" and blue green algae!

As you said, looking to use it simply for our Fresher intro paddle, as it's nicely on the doorstep of some brand new accommodation blocks.

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Aber Neil
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Re: I need an ecologist / help on lake access

Post by Aber Neil »

My better half (a biologist and assistant ecologist) said the following: Find out who the ecologist is, they should be impartial e.g. not a University ecologist as it can be seen as bias. Best people to speak to would be RSPB in the beginning, to find out what species use the lake. Also if they are building something then they would have had to carry out a impact assessment analysis prior to building and to get permission, ask to see this report.
Kayaking doesn't disturb macrofauna which is fish food and some bird food, but they are right to say that it can disturb wildlife if its not limited to area and times. Its also why you need to find out what species are there at different times of year, if you have rare overwintering birds then it can be difficult, if its just mallards then a different story.

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Dave B
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Re: I need an ecologist / help on lake access

Post by Dave B »

Right,
from looking at the link to Duck of the Day,
The Ducks are: Mallard, Mallard, Mallard, Mallard, Coot, Black Swan and Mallard.

The Black Swan is probably an excapee, The Mallards and Coots are very very common.

And the problem is ???????

I expect the real reason for barring access to the lake would be a combination of Health and Safetisim and a clueless insurance accessor.

JimmyP
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Re: I need an ecologist / help on lake access

Post by JimmyP »

Who from the university is trying to stop you?

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TomJ
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Re: I need an ecologist / help on lake access

Post by TomJ »

Neil, we are aware who the ecologist is and, without providing individual details, we have concerns about the neutrality of the opinion provided and are unsure if it will be justified with specific empirical evidence. I've now been sent a few articles on the matter that appear to support us which I'll be using, however our burden of proof appears a lot higher than theirs!

I should have also added that there are frequent references to the use of the lake for non-motorised water sports in the planning application (all publicly available), including a specific mention to kayaking in evidence given to a public inquiry in 2006. I don't want to imply from this that anything improper has been done (I have to be so bloody careful...), its just a statement of fact.

Jimmy, I don't want to name or indicate who specifically we have been dealing with as doing so might cause us difficultly and wouldn't be fair on those involved but I doubt it would be difficult to imagine which departments would be invovled

KrisBD
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Re: I need an ecologist / help on lake access

Post by KrisBD »

As this is a new lake I would be questioning whether there are any records of rare species using it and if not which species they are anticipating will use it (what provisions are in place to support/monitor this?) Are these species already found at similar local sites? Dependent on the birds in question your offer not to paddle in the spring may be of little or no benefit especially if the birds in question are over wintering ones.
The plant less bank that you wish to use could also be consider to be a valuable habitat although as from what you have said about the lake this does seem a little unlikely. Your best solution would be to ask for a small jetty to be put in, done correctly this would be used by the birds as well but you would not be impacting on a potential feeding ground.
You can forget the bus route argument, there are many wildlife sites next to or near busy transport routes, wildlife does seem not be be adversely effected by this as they don't perceive it as a threat where as they can / do see water craft as being threatening.

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Big Henry
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Re: I need an ecologist / help on lake access

Post by Big Henry »

If it's the lake I'm thinking of, there are an awful lot of bats around it. I'm sure they'll be using them as an excuse next!

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TomJ
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Re: I need an ecologist / help on lake access

Post by TomJ »

Big Henry wrote:If it's the lake I'm thinking of, there are an awful lot of bats around it. I'm sure they'll be using them as an excuse next!
There are but they are mostly around the far bank area in the trees, on the side we will be launching/be close to there is currently a construction site!

enjoyer
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Re: I need an ecologist / help on lake access

Post by enjoyer »

I have PM'd you with an example of where paddling is allowed in a SSSi.

If you had a few more examples, I wonder if it might help to put the concerns into perspective?

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TomJ
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Re: I need an ecologist / help on lake access

Post by TomJ »

Thanks for the PM.

Does anyone else know of any other clubs that use conservation areas or SSSIs? Would be great to have a few cases.

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shanclan
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Re: I need an ecologist / help on lake access

Post by shanclan »

TomJ wrote:Thanks for the PM.

Does anyone else know of any other clubs that use conservation areas or SSSIs? Would be great to have a few cases.
Symonds Yat is in a SSSI !!

KrisBD
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Re: I need an ecologist / help on lake access

Post by KrisBD »

Much of the Dart valley is a SSSI

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Adrian Cooper
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Re: I need an ecologist / help on lake access

Post by Adrian Cooper »

I am an SSSI!

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TheKrikkitWars
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Re: I need an ecologist / help on lake access

Post by TheKrikkitWars »

Adrian Cooper wrote:I am an SSSI!
I am an SSSI and so's my Wife!

...

And now for something completely different (and hopefully on topic again).
ONE BLADE, ONE LOVE, [TOO] MANY PIES


Joshua Kelly

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Big Henry
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Re: I need an ecologist / help on lake access

Post by Big Henry »

Is the link in this thread of any use: Canoeing damaging to upland rivers??

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Johnnyalbs
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Re: I need an ecologist / help on lake access

Post by Johnnyalbs »

Tom,
Sounds to me like they got permission for the lake construction on back of ecological benefit and open access to students, but now they've got their nice lake deep down they don't want noisy, brightly clad students messing up the tranquillity!

I am an environmental scientist (not quite an ecologist although I do basic surveys) and I know a little about ecological impact assessments, if I was more local to Yorkshire I would have been happy to give you an professional report, however it's a bit of long round trip for pro-bono, sorry. However I'm sure if you go digging round the Biology Department you should find a receptive ear, especially if you butter them up in the traditional way (in the bar!).

A lot of what has been said already correct:
1) If the lake is newly constructed it is unlikely to be a significantly valuable breeding habitat or overwintering to many species of birds;
2) Kayaking won't have any impact on the macro-invertebrate ecology, and little impact on marginal mammals (voles, otters) if any structures are sensitively located;
Also:
3) Overwintering birds usually need decent marginal vegetation (reeds, grasses etc) and open bodies of water (to land and take off from). If the lake is large enough to leave the sensitive areas and sections of open water alone there will be no significant impact;
4) Kayaking will have no impact on bats unless you plan to move into an attic or old tree!

Basically, complete two surveys on the site: a phase-1 habitat survey, to map the lake and the different habitats and sensitive areas on the lake, and a bird survey. These will show you whether there are any voles/otters using the site, where the bird breeding areas are and other interesting features, islands, trees etc. The bird survey will show which species use the lake, unfortunately different species use the lake at different times (winter and summer migrants), but local the ornithology group may have info on this.

Once you have mapped out the lake, consider which areas to avoid completely, which areas should be avoided where possible and which areas you will have no impact on. Then consider how much space you need, draw up a plan showing play zones and no-go zones and hopefully you can show that, with a kayaking on the lake will have no impact on wildlife.

To put it into context the lake that we paddle on in the summer is shared with the sailing club, rowing club, fishermen, tourists and a nature reserve. As kayakers and canoeists we need to avoid certain areas to maintain hassle-free use of our area, which is a massive area of the lake.

Hopefully the Uni are just nervous that you won't take the new wildlife habitat that they have created seriously, but I'm sure when you show them you are serious, get a survey and impact assessment done, draw up a management plan and present your case. As I said that's my day job and not rocket science! (and I wish I was a little closer).

Ta John

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TomJ
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Re: I need an ecologist / help on lake access

Post by TomJ »

Thanks for the help everyone we have a meeting this week to try and sort everything out, hopefully everything will work out for us....

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TomJ
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Re: I need an ecologist / help on lake access

Post by TomJ »

We've been given access for the first term to be reviewed after Christmas, cheers for the help everyone!

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Johnnyalbs
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Re: I need an ecologist / help on lake access

Post by Johnnyalbs »

Tom
Excellent news, good luck with this terms' paddling and getting approval for the rest of the year.

Ta
John

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Re: I need an ecologist / help on lake access

Post by Yew »

University of York? Would you be paddling on the largest plastic bottomed lake in Europe? Im in the Lincoln uni canoe club, Maybe we could have a game of polo sometime?

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