Actors Tomothy West and Prunella Scales lead Braunston marina demonstration

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ACTORS Timothy West and Prunella Scales led a demonstration against a proposed 550-berth marina on the Northamptonshire border.

The couple joined narrowboat enthusiasts at the canalside at Onley today to register their objection to the Barby Pools Marina, which would be some 36 hectares in size. Both are canal and railway enthusiasts, and Mrs Scales – best known as Sybil Fawlty in Fawlty Towers - is a former president of the Campaign for the Preservation of Rural England.

As part of the protest, Mr West read two verses by Rugby-born poet Rupert Brooke, extolling the beauty of the countryside.

The protest was organised by Tim Coghlan, managing director of Braunston Marina, a site which would be in direct competition with the planned development.

Mr Coghlan said the development would covering about 15 per cent of the entire canal frontage between Braunston and Hillmorton Locks, and is not needed.

He also said the wildlife site at the remains of the old Great Central Railway embankment would be destroyed.

Mr Coghlan said: “We call it the monster marina. We have not quite determined whether it is the second or third largest in the UK.

““This is a very narrow stretch and there is an oversupply of marinas. This would result in five over a six-mile stretch. They are using the argument that there is the demand, but there is not.”

Mr West said: “In broad terms we just feel that anything which spoils the countryside ought to be for a very good reason, and I don’t think this is a very good reason. There is a plentiful supply of berths.

“It is about maintaining a valuable social and economic resource.”

Mrs Scales said: “I grew up in the extreme countryside and I just think it is a vitally important part of British life and philosophy.

“We must look after it. It is part of our culture. We have a very compact geography and it is something we should value and cherish.”

The applicant, J Marine, plans to build an inland marina and wildlife haven, a proposal supported by Onley Park Residents Association.

J Marine director Joseph Oliver said: “The project represents an investment of £15 million, and has the potential to deliver substantial boating, ecological and community benefits.”