A PAINTBALL site is finally set to open after being caught up in red tape for three years.

Andy Wright, of the Hythe, first lodged plans to open Gunsmoke Paintballing, near Layer Marney in 2011, but rows over the site’s wildlife meant no decision was made until May 2013.

Mr Wright has spent the last 18 months ploughing £100,000 into creating the site, at Layer Woods, with a new building, shop and layout for paintballing.

He said: “We are so excited and a bit nervous.

“It has been a long three years to get to this stage and I don’t think we can believe it is finally here. We have been running a site in Suffolk for ten years, so to finally be able to open this one is brilliant.”

Essex Wildlife Trust raised objections to the plans because they feared paintball pellets could harmwildlife.

However, after extensive talks between the trust and Gunsmoke Paintball, the plans were given the go-ahead by Colchester Council.

The hard work has continued and the site will finally open for the first time on Sunday.

Mr Wright spent the first six months after he was granted planning permission just cleaning up the site.

He said: “It hadn’t been touched in ten years and is 31 acres, so it needed a complete overhaul. Since then we have just been getting it ready really.

“I’m trying to make it a bit more upmarket, so there is a shop and a safe area for people to relax in.”

Gunsmoke will not only be offering paintballing, but also airsoft, which involves smaller pellets which don’t leave as many bruises.

They are also hoping to carry on a scheme at its Suffolk site where troubled youngsters are given a day out paintballing thanks to councils and the police.

Mr Wright said: “I just want to thank all of our supporters. We really couldn’t have done it without them and to know so many people have been behind us is just amazing.”