Page last updated at 13:14 GMT, Thursday, 6 November 2008

Go-ahead for 350m skiing centre

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The Snoasis complex will cost 350m and take 3 years to build

A 350m winter sports resort can be built on a disused quarry in Suffolk, the government has announced.

The Department of Communities and Local Government has revealed it has given the huge indoor SnOasis development the go ahead.

Developer Onslow Suffolk plans to transform the quarry at Great Blakenham into a holiday destination.

The project was backed by the business sector, but faced opposition from residents and environmental groups.

The Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said Secretary of State, Hazel Blears, was now "satisfied that the proposal is largely in accordance with the development plan".

This will be the biggest refrigerator in Europe
John Williams, SnOasis Community Alliance opposition group

The approval came despite opposition from Natural England, which said insufficient efforts had been made to protect great crested newts on the site.

The DCLG's statement said Mrs Blears "regrets that is has not proved possible for Natural England's objection to be satisfactorily resolved".

The developer said the resort would bring "enormous economic benefits" to the country.

It said SnOasis had been designed to become the country's first centre of excellence for winter sports athletes.

Godfrey Spanner, managing director of Onslow Suffolk, said he was thrilled with the decision.

He said: "At last we have final approval, after eight years and costs running into many millions, we can move forward and give our country something unique to be proud of.

"SnOasis will now become a reality bringing with it countless opportunities for jobs, the local and national economies, education, athletes and the winter sports industry."

Residents 'saddened'

However SnOasis Community Alliance, a group formed to oppose the development, said it was disappointed with the government's decision.

John Williams, the group's chairman, said SnOasis would be damaging for the environment and would lead to congestion on Suffolk's roads.

He said: "I'm disappointed in the government - a government that says it is for the environment and is deciding against it.

"This will be the biggest refrigerator in Europe."

He added that residents of Great Blakenham would be "saddened" by the decision.

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