REASSURANCES have been given that a controversial plan to create a new lake at a quarry for a major rowing and water sports facility will not affect the hosting of two popular festivals.

Cemex wants to extend the area it extracts gravel and sand in Upton to part of Fish Meadow where two of the town’s most popular festivals, Sunshine Festival and Upton Blues Festival, are held annually.

The cement and concrete suppliers also want to create a huge rowing lake, just north of Upton Marina, once extraction has finished making it the only facility in the region, and fourth in the county, with the potential to attract visitors from across England and Wales.

Cemex will remove around 475,000 tonnes of sand and gravel from 36 acres of land which it expects to take around two years leaving space for a six-lane 1,000-metre competition lake for Upton Rowing Club as well as space for canoeing, open water swimming and other water sports.

Cemex and Upton Rowing Club have both said the work would not have any impact on either of the town’s festivals.

Upton Town Council also said it had been reassured the work would not have a detrimental effect on the Sunshine Festival or Upton Blues Festival.

A spokesman for Cemex said: “If the proposed extension is permitted by the county council and gravel extraction begins in this area, the resulting lake, though larger than the one being formed by the existing scheme, would only occupy a small part of Fish Meadow.

“The proposed lake would not affect the holding of future festivals on the meadow, and in fact the owner sees it as an enhancement that will make the site a more attractive venue.

“For the short time work is in progress there will be some inconvenience but it is the ambition of all parties involved that this is minimised with the least effect on the festivals.

“Public access would be maintained allowing walking and running along existing and proposed new footpaths.

A letter from Upton Rowing Club chairman Peter Barker submitted alongside the application said: “There will still be large areas of open meadow to enable other local events to be hosted both on Fish Meadow and in the town itself.

“These highly successful events include the Upton Blues Festival and Sunshine Festival. Indeed, the new lake and proposed paths should enhance the tourist attraction of these events and provide useful facilities for participants.”

Annette Keyworth, chairman of Upton Business Association, also added its “unqualified support” for the plans.

Public consultation is open on the plan until July 13. Comments can be made via the county council’s website.