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 Friday, 29 November, 2002, 16:51 GMT
Action group prepares for reservoir battle
Lisvane reservoir
Sailors, walkers and fishermen use the reservoir
A quiet, exclusive suburb of Cardiff could be the site of a showdown between developers and an army of more than 1,000 anti-housing campaigners.

The scene of the battle is the Victorian-built Llanishen reservoir which, apart from being north Cardiff's best-kept secret, is also a home to internationally-recognised sailing enthusiasts, walkers and fishermen.

The wildlife at the reservoir

If plans - which have yet to be submitted - go ahead, the 57-acre reservoir would be largely drained and an estate of 200 homes built and a new sailing centre and a small lake created.

Sailor and Reservoir Action Group (RAG) member Geraint Evans said a smaller expanse of water would be a 'puddle', compared to the training conditions his fellow sailors enjoy now.

"We are not NIMBYs (not in my back yard), there could be 4,000 houses built nearby (near Pontprennau and the Lisvane reservoir) and those people need to have access to open space," he said.

Instead of the reservoir's exclusivity, which charges walkers an annual permit of 4, Mr Evans hopes developers will preserve the area and capitalise on its Victorian past.

Geraint Evans
Geraint Evans surveys the scene at Llanishen reservoir

A sailing club could be set up, divers brought back to the reservoir, a cafe and wedding reception facility could be built to safeguard its future, he said.

The neighbouring Lisvane reservoir is already secure, due to its grading as a site of special scientific interest (SSI).

There are a number of environmental projects to find a rare species of plant or animal to keep Llanishen reservoir whole.

It is hoped the recent spotting of a pink wax cap mushroom could hold the key to the reservoir's survival.

"An extremely rare mushroom is of clear ecological interest to Wales," said Mr Evans.

"Lisvane is an SSI, it seems odd that Llanishen right next door isn't and here is also the historical interest, the reservoir shows great Victorian engineering.

RAG action group
The action group has already launched a campaign

"The trouble is a lot of people simply don't know the reservoir is here."

The Cardiff council-run Sailing Centre has seen thousands of youngsters and adults taking up courses at Llanishen.

Members fear the centre would lose its expertise in producing the dozens of European and internationally-recognised sailors, if Llanishen is drained.

The centre also boasts a host of national squad members who have learned their skills and honed their talent out on the Llanishen water.

'Unique site'

Ted Thurgood, RAG chairman, said the pressure group was poised to act the moment an application was put before Cardiff council.

"We are not opposed to building on that site but it needs to be built in an intelligent way, it needs to enhance the lifestyle of local people and needs to be a quality plan to the city.

"This is a unique site," he added.

A spokesman for Western Power, which owns the prime multimillion pound site and would submit an application to the council, said the reservoir was redundant.

"We are taking very great care in preparing our proposal and we are discussing it in great detail with our environmental experts.

"Our aim is to submit a proposal in the not too distant future."

The spokesman said the reservoir water is not vital to the city, it is not drinking water but has been used for industrial supply in the past.

More from south east Wales
See also:

02 Jul 02 | Wales
27 Aug 02 | Scotland
21 Aug 02 | Scotland
28 May 02 | Science/Nature
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