The Campaign For Swimming at Hatchmere
Hatchmere Lake has been used by the public for recreation and leisure activities (fishing, bathing, bird watching etc.) for many generations. The lake is particularly popular with families with young children who come from the surrounding area to enjoy the attractive waters and to picnic on an area of grass adjoining a sandy bay. Many pensioners and disabled people also visit the lake which is close to a public highway and the visual amenity is immediately obvious to all who use this road.
Hatchmere was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in 1949. The conservation value of the lake is obvious, containing nationally rare botanical species and insects. Historically there is no evidence of any conflict between the conservation needs and the use of the Lake by the public.
The Lake was bought by Cheshire Wildlife Trust (CWT) in 1998 with grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the Countryside Agency and Vale Royal Borough Council. Under the Conditions of Grant imposed by the HLF CWT has a duty to keep the Lake and all its facilities open to the public. During spring 2000, CWT fenced off the entrance to the sandy bay which is the only public access point to the water and planted reeds across it. This coincided with CWT appointing the Prince Albert Angling Society (PAAS) to act as site manager.
Faced with a barrage of adverse media publicity, the formation of a campaign (Friends of Hatchmere) and the removal of the fence and reeds by angry protesters, CWT, claiming that they were unaware of the degree of public interest in the site, backed down. In August 2000 they entered into an agreement with a committee, set up by the Norley Parish Council, in which they agreed to take the necessary steps in order to welcome the public to the site.
However fishing, by far the main human activity at the lake, remains exclusively in the hands of PAAS.
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