OLYMPIC hopefuls could train at a shooting ground after plans to extend a shot catching mound were approved by county hall.

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The planning control committee of Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) rubber-stamped plans to build the 15m high bund at Nuthampstead Shooting Ground and owner Martin Baker said word on the decision travelled fast in the shooting world.

He said: “I think we have already had a couple of enquiries from teams whether parts of it will be finished in the lead up to the games.

“If we can get the paper work finished here there is a good chance we can get one range done by then.

“I have been sworn to secrecy on one or two names. They are basically very strong contenders for medalling, and they would want to get on and train here. If the shooting press got hold of their names they would come down here.”

The ground is one of the top facilities in the country and has been used by countless medallists to train in various clay pigeon disciplines.

Mr Barker, who has coached Team GB, Scotland and the Isle of Man, wanted to extend the mound to bring it in line with perceived future EU regulation.

Recycled tyre bales will be used due to environmental concerns and to limit lorry loads.

The planning application was recommended to be thrown out by officers concerned about the impact it would have on the landscape, but councillors last week backed it.

A HCC spokesman said: “The decision to approve the planning application for Nuthampstead Shooting Ground was taken by the Development Control Committee on May 22.

“The committee noted that by approving the application there would be a number of benefits to the rural community.”

Mr Barker said he will talk with nearby residents to see if there was anything he can do to reduce the impact of the work.

“It’s obviously a step in the right direction but there is lots of bits and pieces to sort out like agreements with Highways,” he said.

“I still think a lot of locals have been misinformed and some people are making a big issue out of it.

“We will look at different ways we can reduce the impact on the locals as we can, with regards to lorry movements.”

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