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Last Updated: Friday, 2 September 2005, 07:54 GMT 08:54 UK
Extreme cycling facility approved
Mountain biker
The plan is to expand existing facilities to cater for extreme biking
Controversial plans for a new regional cycle centre in the Forest of Dean have been approved by councillors.

Cannop is already home to a bike hire business and is the starting point of a 12-mile circular cycle route.

The plan is to expand facilities with 570,000 of coalfields regeneration money, to include making old slag heaps suitable for "extreme" mountain biking.

But the campaign groups Dean Forest Voice and Friends of the Forest fear it would disturb the peace of the valley.

'Macho area'

Friends' chairman Colin Smith said: "It's a sleepy, tranquil peaceful, relaxing place to be and the aim is to change that into a macho cycling area."

But supporter Walter Leach, whose two sons are keen local cyclists, said: "I think the forest is big enough to accommodate walkers, retain tranquillity and set aside a place for people who need an adrenaline rush."

He also supports the suggestion that the centre could bring more money into the area.

"It's not a cheap sport, these are affluent people, so there's a need to supply facilities like coffee shops and stores for them."

District councillors approved the scheme in principle on Thursday evening.

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