Objectors fear for wildlife if large events are held at Wigan borough country park
Residents opposing plans to allow music events at a borough beauty spot have been reassured it will not be used for events inappropriate for the area.
Campaigners like Andrew Hogg, who lives nearby, believe public nuisance could be brought to the area if live music and dance events are held there until the early hours alongside alcohol sales as the application suggests.
They argue it is “clearly in direct contradiction of the Wigan Council policy in relation to the 'Greenheart' ethos and enhancing wildlife and biodiversity in our green spaces”.
“Implementing medium or large-scale live music/dance/cinema events with licensed premises will be extremely detrimental to the habitat and wildlife on this local nature reserve,” Mr Hogg said.
“No-one involved in the area, like the ornithological society or the rangers, were informed of this application I have been told. A lot of people are really upset about this and really angry.
“There was a notice about it placed next to the new visitors centre that is being constructed which was difficult to notice. I don’t object to events in the area, we have the Ironman event which I don’t have a problem with, but it is very loud.
“I just don’t see why we should have this in a nature reserve when there are plenty of places like the sports village where they can take place.”
James Winterbottom, the council’s director of digital, leisure and well-being, said: “Pennington Flash nature reserve is a much-loved asset, and our priority is to cherish and look after this wonderful place for years to come. Wigan Council has committed £2.4m to make significant improvements to the flash, to help it become more accessible and inclusive for all.
“Producing a positive and thoughtful plan to bring people and nature together in a considered way is integral to our future vision for Pennington Flash nature reserve. This is an ambition which is supported by Natural England, whose purpose is to help protect and restore our natural world.
“I’d like to reassure residents that the use of the proposed alcohol and events licence will be limited to very specific, well-managed and appropriate events for the setting. Each event would be assessed on an individual basis.
“Nature will always remain the key priority at the heart of Pennington Flash and we would like to reassure residents that protecting our wildlife and greenspaces is incredibly important to us. Any event requiring the use of the proposed licence will be assessed for its ecological and ornithological impact.”
Mr Winterbottom explained they took inspiration from similar venues, including Haigh Woodland Park.
He said: “The café will focus on offering good quality hot drinks and snacks to visitors, and on occasion host family-friendly events in keeping with the location.
“This might be events like live theatre shows, family picnic events – similar to other parks. As part of the plan, an alcohol and events licensing application has been submitted, which is not unusual for this type of venue.
“We are reflecting on the feedback to the licence application to make sure the licence covers the council's aim to connect people with nature and to meet these objectives in an appropriate way.”