Man United's Carrington plans put on hold by water voles
Endangered rodents force club to resubmit plans for state of the art training complex
DAVID MOYES has had his fair share of troubles since taking over as manager of Manchester United, and now his plans to redevelop the club's Carrington training complex have been undermined - by water voles.
A population of the endangered rodents, which are protected by law, has been found on the site, south west of Manchester, where United's millionaire superstars train.
The 108-acre complex was officially opened in 2000 and boasts 14 pitches plus gyms, pools and other facilities. The club currently uses only 71 acres of the site and the rest is given over to farmland and a nature reserve, which appears to be doing very well. So well in fact that plans to upgrade the complex have had to be revised according to The Sun.
"United's proposed developments, including underground heating for training pitches and eight-metre high fences to keep out prying eyes, have had to be resubmitted," explains the paper. "They now include six hectares of lowland bog and wet woodland - double what was previously proposed - so the voles have somewhere for their elaborate burrow system."
The original plans included only three hectares for the rodents, whose numbers have fallen 20 per cent in just two years according to a recent survey. Habitat loss is one of the reasons for the decline reports the BBC.
United have now resubmitted their vole-friendly plans to Trafford Council and are waiting for the go-ahead.
Increasing the amount of land for wildlife may actually help United, who have gone to great lengths to prevent opposition spies glimpsing what goes on at the centre. There are already 2.4 kilometres of fencing and 30,000 trees on the site, and a protected area of water-vole burrows will only make life harder for anyone trying to snoop on the team's preparations.
Money for the vole-friendly plans should not be an issue. In April 2013, United agreed an eight-year sponsorship deal, worth £15m a year, with Aon that saw the centre officially renamed the Aon Training Complex. ·