Concern over Earlswood Lakes work
The £1.6million program of improvements at Earlswood Lakes begun this week, but clubs and businesses have expressed concerns about a lack of consultation and the disruption that will be caused.
The improvements include work on the main dam on Valley Road, improving drainage, repairing erosion, raising some sections of footpath and a number of other measures.
However the disruption that will be caused, including the closure of some nearby roads and footpaths, will come as a blow to some clubs trying to get back on their feet after Covid.
Earlswood Lakes Sailing Club, which had been planning events to mark its 60th anniversary this year, will be severely impacted by the work as it will likely have to remain closed until September.
The improvements will not be completed until around November and some road closures will remain in place for a large part of that time.
Explaining why the work is necessary, John Ward, Head of Project Delivery for the Canal & River Trust, said: “From time to time we need to carry out repairs and maintenance to our reservoirs. The reservoirs at Earlswood are 200 years old, and these statutory works are necessary by law, under the Reservoirs Act.
“It is important that the Trust does this work so that people can continue to use and enjoy the lakes and local waterways.
“We apologise for any inconvenience caused to local residents, the sailing club, angling club and other visitors to the reservoirs.
“We know how important Earlswood Lakes are to local people, for wildlife, recreation, health and wellbeing. Our aim is complete the works as efficiently and safely as possible, minimising disruption to people and wildlife.
“Canal & River Trust ecologists have been involved in the planning of the works to ensure the impact on wildlife and the local environment is minimised.
“These works will ensure the reservoirs are fit for purpose and comply with the latest reservoir legislation, so they can continue to provide benefits for people and wildlife for many years to come.”
The lakes at Earlswood consist of three reservoirs - Terry's Pool, Windmill Pool and Engine Pool - built in the early 19th century to supply water to the Stratford Canal.
Together they occupy 70 acres and are popular with people from across the West Midlands for walking, fishing and sailing.
Perry Clarke, commodore at Earlswood lakes Sailing Club, said: “We absolutely sympathise with the need to do this, at the end of the day it’s a safety issue and there are homes behind that dam, but I just wish they had tried to do this work during lockdown.
“The other thing is we were notified of this only at the beginning of March, it would have been much easier if we’d have known in January, we would not have asked members for their fees and would have had more time to find them alternative places to sail. There has been a financial impact because we’ve had to refund some members.
“It’s such a shame that it’s happening during our 60th year, we did have plans to get 60 boats out on the lake at the same time.
“When all this happens the lakes will need policing, the water level may go down to a couple of feet, but there could be six feet of mud underneath that, so it could be quite dangerous.”