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‘The least evil route’: Wildlife saved from lorries as Redbridge Council agrees to move Fairlop Waters haul road

PUBLISHED: 13:30 23 November 2018

Wildlife campaigner protest plans for a haulage road for gravel transporting trucks set to run alongside Fairlop Waters Nature Park. Photo: Ron Jeffries

Wildlife campaigner protest plans for a haulage road for gravel transporting trucks set to run alongside Fairlop Waters Nature Park. Photo: Ron Jeffries

Archant

Badgers, owls and other protected species will be spared a road which has threatened to tear through a woodland strip of Fairlop Waters Country Park.

The park is home to rare long-eared owls, among other species, which campaigners say are under threat if the road is to go ahead along the proposed site. Photo: Ron JeffriesThe park is home to rare long-eared owls, among other species, which campaigners say are under threat if the road is to go ahead along the proposed site. Photo: Ron Jeffries

Council leader Jas Athwal last night (November 22) agreed to change the planned route of a road set to be built by construction firm Brett Tarmac to transport gravel extracted from Fairlop Quarry, in Hainault Road.

The news came as a six-strong deputation of campaigners from the Aldborough Hatch Defence Association (AHDA) and Fairlop Birders took centre stage during a full council meeting in Redbridge Town Hall.

Addressing the chamber, AHDA chairwoman Jenny Chalmers said: “An area that is one of the most biodiverse with a multitude of protected species - including reptiles, great crested newt, bats and badgers - is to be destroyed and flattened to build a road.”

She spoke of the park’s “grade one site of importance of nature conservation status” and urged the council instead to have the road built on an area of open farmland which runs parallel to the contested site.

She added: “This endangered strip with mature woodland could then survive and act as a buffer for the users of Fairlop Waters against the noise and dust of gravel extraction and transport.”

Conservative Cllr Howard Berlin echoed this, asking if the contract between Redbridge Council and Brett Tarmac should be “amended” to relocate the road to open land.

Cllr Athwal told that chamber that he and Cllr John Howard, cabinet member for civic pride, had met with Ms Chalmers and her co-campaigner Chris Gannaway at the proposed site earlier that day.

“I have come back since then and spoken to my chief executive and operations director,” Cllr Athwal said.

“My question is, if we move the haul road to the area that you suggested, would that meet your requirements?”

“It is a compromise,” Mr Gannaway said in response. “From our perspective that is the least evil route.”

Cllr Athwal simply said: “Done.”

More than a dozen campaigners rejoiced in the public gallery at the news.

Among them was 85-year-old Ron Jeffries, who earlier this year vowed to “lie down in the front of the first lorry”, should the road go ahead.

“We won!” he told the Recorder.

“My goodness, it took long enough!”

Speaking after the meeting Ms Chalmers thanked the council and said she was absolutely delighted that the council had “seen the sense” in moving the road.

A petition against the haul road received more than 2,400 signatures.

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