Lorry haul road set to plough through Fairlop woodland could see wildlife ‘re-housed’ to ire of campaigners
PUBLISHED: 07:00 26 September 2018 | UPDATED: 08:37 26 September 2018
Badgers, amphibians, rare birds and reptiles may be re-housed from their existing habitats in a contested section of land near Fairlop Waters Country Park set to become the site of a lorry through road.
Construction firm Brett Tarmac Limited met on Thursday (September 20) with Ilford North MP Wes Streeting and wildlife campaigners from the Aldborough Hatch Defence Association (ADHA) at the site, in Hainault Road, where the firm is due to build a road for gravel transportation.
ADHA have launched a petition opposing the road’s construction, which has gained more than 400 signatures.
They fear the daily passage of gravel-transporting lorries will harm rare species and trees.
But following the meeting, Mr Streeting told the Recorder that “it seems virtually guaranteed the haul road will remain where it is”.
He said: “I understand residents’ unhappiness in Aldborough Hatch but I think there is zero possibility of the road being moved simply as it has been given planning permission now.”
“We have received assurances that precautions will be taken to protect and safely relocate any wildlife and the area will be restored following the works,” he added.
But campaigner Chris Gannaway has slammed suggestion of relocating the wildlife.
“Reptiles and amphibians can be relocated if you have a suitable environment nearby,” he conceded.
“But it is generally accepted as not being very successful.”
He added: “As far as badgers are concerned – you can’t safely catch a badger a shove it into another area.
“You have to build an artificial badger sett and block off its existing sett.”
“It’s a very involved and expensive process.”
He said: “If the haul road goes ahead, the habitat of yet another protected species will be trashed.
He also highlight that the area is the park’s only roosting place for long-eared owls, which are rare in London.
Once their habitat is destroyed, it is not possible to control or predict where they will roost, he added.
His campaign group had maintained that the proposed route of the haul road crashes through Fairlop Waters Country Park, which is a legally protected Local Nature Reserve (LNR).
However, a complaint submitted to the local authority by Mr Gannaway has revealed that “the council, in 2011, removed a small area of land from that ‘licensed’ by the council to Vision for the country park next to the Equestrian Centre.”
The groups alleges that this is evidence of a behind-closed-doors deal over the stretch of coveted woodland.
Chris said: “This was clearly done in 2011 so that when the planning committee considered the application in 2017, planning officers could hold their hands on their hearts to assert that the haul road would not go through Fairlop Waters.”
The council’s planning committee gave conditional approval to construction firm Brett Tarmac Limited’s application to extend Fairlop Quarry on June 5 this year.
In response, a Redbridge spokeswoman said: “The land was removed from the license under which Vision operate the Country Park in 2011.
“No further protection would have been afforded to it had it remained part of the license.”
Simon Treacy, planning director at Brett Tarmac, said: “Planning permission for the latest quarry development was approved in June after extensive environmental surveys and widespread consultation with everybody concerned.
“It’s now a case of refining our plans so we can fulfil the conditions in our planning consent, and then doing what we say we’re going to do, including safeguards to protect wildlife.
“We will continue to discuss our activities with the planning authority, local groups and ecological experts to achieve the best possible outcome for all, such as enhancing areas of the site that have potential to become habitat for numerous species on the Fairlop Plain.”