Campaigners accuse Redbridge Council of breaking promise to protect wildlife from lorry through road
- Credit: Archant
Redbridge Council has backtracked on its pledge to save birds, badgers and other protected species from a road that threatens to tear through a woodland strip of Fairlop Waters Country Park, campaigners say.
Wildlife campaigners, councillors and employees from construction firm Brett Tarmac Ltd met on Monday (January 28) to view the revised route of a road set to be constructed to transport gravel extracted from Fairlop Quarry, in Hainault Road.
But, in a statement released later that day, the campaigners revealed the planned route has not changed – although Brett Tarmac contests this.
Aldborough Hatch Defense Association (ADHA) chairwoman Jenny Chalmers said: “We are astounded that, having been given a clear assurance in public at the council meeting, that the council leader is backtracking.
“How can council leader Jas Athwal permit Brett Tarmac Ltd to override and ignore the decision of Redbridge Council?”
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The campaigners say the route will irretrievably damage animal habitats and spoil the tranquility of the area.
As the Recorder reported previously, Cllr Athwal agreed to shift the road in accordance with their demands at a full council meeting on November 22 last year.
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“If we move the haul road to the area that you suggested, would that meet your requirements?” he asked campaigner Chris Gannaway at the meeting.
“It is a compromise,” Mr Gannaway said in response. “From our perspective that is the least evil route.”
Cllr Athwal simply said: “Done.”
The statement released on Monday accuses the council of doing nothing to uphold this decision and added that campaigners have been told by Brett Tarmac Ltd that it is too late to make any changes.
Ms Chalmers said the group will “gladly” work with Brett Tarmac Ltd and Redbridge Council to agree a route for the haul road that will cause minimal damage to the environment, to residents and to those who walk, run and ride in this “much valued area of green belt”.
“Failure by Redbridge Council and Brett Tarmac Ltd to take positive action will result in deep and lasting repugnance at the audacious flouting of the decision made in good faith by elected councillors, by the council leader and developers.”
Brett Tarmac Ltd’s planning director Simon Treacy responded by highlighting that planning permission for the quarry extension at was approved in June 2018.
He said: “This followed environmental surveys and widespread consultation over two years, plus a 15-month period whilst the council considered our application.
“We appreciate the concerns raised and have continued to refine our plans, with regular input from experienced ecologists, local conservation groups and the council, to ensure the right steps are taken to safeguard wildlife. “Following extensive studies we are confident the scheme will not have an impact on badgers or owls.
“We have followed the correct procedures, we’ve had positive open dialogue with all parties including AHDA, and we’ve shown commitment to going beyond the statutory obligations of our planning consent.
“We have agreed to reduce the haul road to a single track with passing places, rather than double width.
“The revised route is located as far as possible from areas of concern.
“We will also carry out further landscaping and planting to create new areas of habitat for wildlife to thrive.
“This would be done in the right season with the involvement of all interested parties.”
Redbridge Council has been approached for comment.