A HELLIFIELD campaign group which is fighting plans to create a leisure centre on land known as Hellifield flashes, has expressed its dismay after the RSPB and Ribble Rivers Trust became the latest organisations to withdraw their objections.

Amended plans were submitted last autumn for the leisure centre, hotel, swimming pool and up to 300 lodges, plus a park and ride facility on land west of Hellifield, known as the Kell Well Point scheme.

The new amendments, submitted on behalf of the Bingley-based developer, Halton Homes, broadly relate to parking, flood control and an outdoor activity provision, lighting issues, roof plans and woodland planting.

.However, further concern has been voiced following receipt of the amendments which resulted in the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority withdrawing their objections, followed, recently by the RSPB and RRT.

The RSPB stated in a letter to Craven District Council: “It is the applicant’s intention that following consent for the above application to transfer a block of 55 acres to RRT to be managed as compensatory habitat for the losses on the Hellifield site. In addition RRT is to be given a lease (with an option to buy) over the adjoining 22 acres to be managed for ecological enhancement.

“Taking the above into account in the context of discussions with the applicant, his advisers and stakeholders, the RSPB is now in a position to remove our objection to the above proposed development.

Chris Sharpe, on behalf of campaign group Save Our Craven Countryside said: “SOCC have had a very in-depth meeting to discuss the way forward.

“We know villagers are furious and many will have no idea the Hellifield flashes are being negotiated away as there has been no knowledge or consultation with anyone other than Craven District Council. The consequence of this developers action would devastate our village and we’re not having it.”

Hellifield resident Stephanie Young added: “Has this whole project really been thought out or could it be a white elephant waiting to fail dismally and leave a rather unsightly blot on the landscape when it all goes hopelessly wrong?

“The RRT say that all this wondrous wildlife can be rehomed. You must be kidding this is not Battersea Dogs’ Home. We can’t just get Paul O’Grady to fight our corner and have these animals adopted by new families.”

The Campaign to Protect Rural England, the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and the Yorkshire Dales Society are among organisations which continue to oppose the application.

Natural England’s latest submission into the amendments state: “Natural England is aware that significant progress has been made with regards to both sites.

“However we also note that additional information is forthcoming on both the mitigation and compensation for potential impacts on birds associated with the River Ribble (Long Preston Deeps) SSSI and additional hydrological information with regards to Pan Beck Fen SSSI which we wish to see before making any further comments at this stage.”

No date has yet been set for the plans to be determined.