LLANDEGFEDD Sailing Club faces an uncertain future after an appeal for Welsh Water to re-consider closing their popular reservoir to water sports activities until March 2015 was unsuccessful.
With a financial loss of around £5,000 from members leaving, less grants, and other costs, there is considerable concern for the club which was founded 1968 and produced world and UK champion racing sailors.
Welsh Water have cited financial constrains, alongside health and safety concerns, for closing the site near Pontypool, to work on a brand new £2.5 million water sports and visitor centre.
The project was due to be completed later this year, but bad weather around the turn of the year had an ‘adverse effect’ on the construction programme.
When complete it will be one of the top inland sailing spots in the country, but the club fear the interim period could have a ‘devastating’ effect for them.
Racing secretary of the sailing club, Mark Williams, said: “The club has promoted sailing at the lake for decades and now all the good work may be undone by the closure. Also, no offer of compensation from Welsh water so the club needs to find £2,700 just to cover insurance for equipment we can’t access, let alone the cost of losing members to other clubs.
“Building work routinely takes place adjacent infant schools, live highways and pedestrian areas but Welsh Water can’t build a building within a huge two-hectare site without closing the whole reservoir. It’s very frustrating.”
Peter Perry, chief operating officer of Dwr Cymru Welsh Water, said: “This is currently a construction site. As a result, given that the safety of our staff and users is our first priority and will always guide all our decisions, we are working with the sailing club to scope how members may be able to temporarily access the site safely until it is complete.
“The new water sports centre will make Llandegfedd a prime sailing venue in the UK and hopefully encourage an increased interest in sailing and other water sports.”
He said he looked forward to welcoming people to the new “flagship site”, which will cater for more than 150,000 visitors each year.
But Mr Williams said it was unlikely ‘temporary access’ would persuade members to remain at the site.