Weston Marine Lake outdoor swimming plans reach key milestone
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Plans to rejuvenate Weston's Marine Lake have taken an important step forward.
Earlier this year, North Somerset Council pledged to invest £300,000 in Weston's Marine Lake to bring it back into use as an outdoor swimming destination.
Following this news, an application for a licence to remove built-up silt, with a plan to harness the natural energy of the season's high tides, has now been submitted to the Government's Marine Management Organisation.
Prior to any mechanical removal of the estimated 35,000 tonnes of compacted silt, the council will remove the broken sluice gates to enable high spring tides to flush out as much of the silt as possible, naturally.
While this work is carried out, the lake will be temporarily closed to the public in the interests of safety.
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Executive member for leisure and tourism, Cllr Mike Solomon, said: "Marine Lake was created in the 1920s to ensure that swimming was available throughout the day and not just when the tide is in.
“Over the years, the lake has become silted up and is now almost impossible to swim in. We want to change that in the 2020s and give residents and visitors somewhere to swim outdoors – somewhere for serious swimmers and families alike.
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"We hope that flushing out the bulk of the silt naturally, and at minimal cost, means that the amount we’ll need to remove mechanically may be considerably reduced. More of the restoration budget could then be spent on refurbishing and enhancing Marine Lake’s facilities to create a real hub for outdoor swimming and other leisure uses.
“We are keen to move to plastic-free and I want concessions at the Marine Lake to be plastic-free as far as possible as well as all of our other concessions eventually."
Natural tidal flushing of Marine Lake will begin during the week starting April 19 and will last for around eight weeks, depending on weather conditions.
The walkways around the lake will be closed to the public during the works, although access for the RNLI will be maintained at all times.
North Somerset Council’s investment in Weston’s Marine Lake is part of a £700,000 Great Lakes project which will involve work to revitalise Clevedon and Portishead's coastal lakes too.
The plans for Marine Lake are also included within the adopted placemaking strategy for Weston town centre, which includes a set of themes and ambitions for the town around wellbeing, recreation, being green, low carbon, ‘a great place to live work’ and study and helping the local economy adjust to the fundamental changes accelerated by coronavirus.
Cllr Solomon added: "With the RNLI's plans to restore Birnbeck Pier, our own hopes to protect Worlebury Hillfort, proposals for the town quarry, a new vision for the Sovereign Centre and the wider work with Weston’s Heritage Action Zone to recognise the town's rich architectural heritage, this is a very exciting time for Weston and an opportunity to make a lasting impact on the fortunes of the town."