PLANS to make sure the site of a proposed water park resort is environmentally friendly have been described as ‘fanciful’.

The multi-million pound project put forward by US firm Great Wolf Resorts (GWR) includes a 498-room hotel and would sit on an18.6-hectare site in Chesterton, near Bicester.

It was refused by Cherwell District Council last year, but appealed, and is now half-way through an appeal hearing which is live-streamed on Youtube.

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George Bird is the appointed inspector in the case.

Yesterday, ecologist Dominic Woodfield gave his analysis of GWR’s proposals to offset the impact the resort will have on biodiversity.

He said that of the 180 metres of hedgerow on the site, 60 metres of it will be lost and other factors had not been considered such as ‘sight lines’ which would result in more hedgerow being removed.

GWR plans to plant ‘native species rich’ hedges on the site measuring at half a metre wide, but Mr Woodfield said because of the proposed location, they would be ‘almost pointless’ due to the lack of space to grow.

He told the Inspector: “It’s going to be something literally this wide - the width of two rulers or a bit less. It’s fanciful frankly to suggest that just drawing lines on a map and calling them a species rich hedge gets you over the line. Those hedges will be almost pointless, they’ve got no room to expand.

“The management regime for those will be so severe that they will probably die and become gappy in very short order and probably be replaced for fencing for practical reasons.”

There is a potential that a 'green roof' - a roof covered with vegetation - could be on the roof of the hotel building, but Mr Woodfield says it is unlikely that GWR would actually deliver this, saying the idea was a ‘bit of an afterthought’.

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He added: “You’ve only got to go through all of the application documents and look for how many times it's mentioned and how much detail is given about it to perhaps sympathise with why I find it difficult to give it a great deal of credence.”

GWR plans to include a new 5.74 hectare public nature trail on the site, which is the equivalent of almost six football pitches.

But despite this, residents do not want to see the countryside concreted over with a hotel and 900 space car park.

On Friday, 32 members of the public who oppose the project including parish council chairs, district councillor Ian Corkin, a local vicar and others, had the chance to present their objections.

The youngest protester Jack Martin, 12, who lives in Chesterton, told the Inspector that he helped his mum deliver leaflets about the resort, put up signs around the area and appeared in a TV interview to ‘stick up for [his] little village’.

He said: “I cycle in our village and having 1,800 more cars a day on our small roads would put me in danger. I rely on my bike to get me places locally as I’m too young to drive.

“This is not for me and my friends to use, tickets will be very expensive, I researched the USA prices and I don’t think I’ll be able to go there despite it being in our village.

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“Our wildlife which is beautiful will have their homes destroyed, I see lovely deer, elegant swans, birds and many other animals from the public paths of the golf course so please don’t let Great Wolf in.”

The hearing continues today at 10am through to tomorrow but will break next week and recommence from March 2 - 5.

To watch, go to www.youtube.com and search 'The Planning Inspectorate'.

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