THE president of a York boat club which wants to create 14 new moorings on the River Ouse has hit back at criticism of the scheme.

Dave Mortlock, of York Motor Yacht Club, claims the stretch of riverside below the Millennium Bridge is the scene of regular alcohol and drug-fuelled parties, which leave behind remnants of fires, empty beer cans and syringes.

He said his last visit to the site had been with police. "Within 30 seconds of our descent to the lower level, the PC had found a box containing numerous miniature gas bottles, which he told us was nitrous oxide, the new legal high."

Mr Mortlock also claimed that some of the willow trees which would be removed to make way for the moorings were in a poor state, with several having collapsed into the river.

"The effect of these trees is to restrict the flow of the river in flood conditions and exacerbate the effect of the flood," he said.

"They also create eddies which erode the bank and damage the habitat of wildlife living there."

Mr Mortlock's comments come after a sustained campaign of opposition to the plans, led by Green councillor Andy D'Agorne, which culminated in a demonstration on the bridge on Sunday by dozens of objectors.

Cllr D'Agorne has claimed the removal of willows and natural vegetation would have a negative impact on wildlife and new fencing would block access to walkers.

City of York Council said recently that leasing the land to the club was something it was ‘not looking to take forward’ and also said planning permission was ‘highly unlikely' .

But Mr Mortlock claimed the plans had received a positive response from the outset from the council and said the club proposed to manage the trees in the form of removal, pruning and replanting with indigenous species.

He said a bat survey had found no evidence of roosting but the club had planned to provide bat boxes throughout the site and an otter holt at the northern end.

"The proposed site would remain part of the green wedge as no structures are proposed other than a discreet security fence on the lower level, leaving a footpath along this level," he said.

He also claimed the club was not an exclusive "luxury" facility, adding: "Many of the members including myself are "working class" people who have enjoyed boating for many years."