No need to fear dragon boats

IN response to Sally Tanner’s letter in last week’s edition, I would like to reassure the public, and the 24 teams taking part, that this [dragon boat racing] is not an event they need to be alarmed about.

Before agreement to stage the event, a number of issues were taken into account by WADARS, with the highest priority being given to the care of the wildlife on the lake. Discussions took place with our own animal rescue officers, the committee and staff (of whom, at the time, Sally was one), as well as local representatives from the RSPCA and other wildlife groups.

It was decided to stage the event at the end of the main breeding season in July, so that the vast majority of young birds (moorhens, coots and ducklings) would have fledged and those remaining would be big enough to move themselves away from the racing area. We all agreed that this was the best solution.

In planning the event, WADARS has taken in everyone’s concerns and has included the following in the event plan:-

We are using a professional dragon boat event company which runs more than 60 of these events each year on lakes, rivers and ponds across the UK. They are careful to always respect wildlife and not cause undue stress to birds and other wildlife.

Any areas containing nesting birds will be buoyed off to avoid disturbance.

Wildlife monitors will be appointed to regularly check the birds and, if they spot any birds under stress, we will adjust the racing to keep the boats clear.

Racing will be kept to the west side of the two islands and both islands will be out of bounds to boats and competitors.

The main area of stalls and sideshows is sited on the west side of the lake (the pitch and put course,) again to keep any noise and disturbance to this area.

WADARS animal rescue officers, committee and staff would not run this event if we had any concerns about the welfare of the wildlife. WADARS has been in the front line in getting nesting sites protected, water quality improved and any dangers to wildlife on the lake fixed and we are the first to rescue and support the birds on the water that need our help.

There are already boats on the water, trains running round the lake, children playing and lots of noise from the playground, paddling pool and other activities. Our event will add very little to this and with the plans highlighted above, we feel that the wildlife is well cared for.

WADARS feels this one-day event is an opportunity for the public, the corporate and other teams taking part, to enjoy a great free day out where they can learn more about the need to support WADARS and raise thousands of pounds in support of our work in the future. The response we have had for this event from the organisations taking part, our sponsors, the council and the general public has been wonderful and very supportive. We hope that as many people as possible will come along on the day to support this new event for the town.

Chris Horton

WADARS chairman

Durrington Cemetery

Findon Road