LLANDEGFEDD Sailing Club (LLSC) has been “devastated” by the news that its reservoir is to be closed to water sports activities until March 2015.
Work on a brand new £2.5 million water sports and visitor centre was due to be completed by by Welsh Water at the site near Pontypool later this year, making it one of the top inland sailing spots in the country.
But it has since been announced it will not now open until March 2015 due to the recent bad weather, which is said to have had an “adverse effect” on the construction programme.
The sailing club has since written to the chief executive officer of Welsh Water, and asked him to reconsider his decision, citing loss of members to other clubs and the sport altogether, loss of national racing events, and loss of “significant” income.
Racing secretary of LLSC, Mark Williams, said: “The club has always maintained that sailing outside normal working hours – on Sundays and Wednesday evenings - should have no impact on health and safety or construction costs.
“The Welsh Water decision to close the reservoir for the whole of 2014 will have a devastating impact on LLSC.
“We will have No Royal Yachting Association affiliated training courses in 2014 which will result in loss of registered training establishment status, and inhibit training for new members in 2015. We will lose events including an adult UK Inland and Welsh Junior Championship, which may not return to Llandegfedd in future years, and have no income but fixed outgoings circa £2,500 and opportunities for significant grants lost.”
The club – which has world and UK champion racing sailors, including Hannah Tilley who is training with the GB Olympic Development Programme – has appealed to Welsh Water to allow sailing on select days from April, and asked for a response by Friday March 14.
Welsh Water said in the newsletter: “The deluges of rain throughout the period since before Christmas have delayed the build by at least three weeks.
This delay threatens to impact the cost, and we are therefore less inclined to ask the builders to operate around water sports users in 2014 if it will impact the cost of the project.
“The disappointment that this will represent for our water sports and angling users is fully appreciated.”
When complete, the new centre will offer changing facilities, showers and a viewing balcony and cater for more than 150,000 visitors each year.