Campaigners cautiously optimistic as council leader announces new route for controversial Aldborough Hatch haul road
PUBLISHED: 07:00 14 February 2019
Redbridge Council leader Cllr Jas Athwal insists his promise to protect Fairlop Waters Country Park's wildlife from a road which threatens to tear through its habitat will not be broken.
Cllr Athwal announced yesterday (February 13) that construction firm Brett Tarmac will now re-route a haul road it is set to build to transport gravel extracted from Fairlop Quarry, in Hainault Road.
It will now go through a nearby area of privately-owned grassland - instead of a hotly contested strip of woodland strip home to badgers and owls, among other species – seemingly in accordance with the demands of wildlife campaigners.
Cllr Athwal said: “I have been engaged in rather difficult negotiations with different partners concerning the haul road scheme and have been unable to publicly speak on the matter while these negotiations were ongoing.”
Cllr Athwal had promised to move the site at a full council meeting on November 22.
But wildlife campaigners accused him of backtracking after a meeting on January 28 revealed the route had, at that stage, remained largely unchanged.
Cllr Athwal said: “Now those negotiations have concluded I am delighted that we have successfully managed to arrange for the haul road to be moved to a much less intrusive area.
“I heard residents’ concerns over the wildlife and delicate ecosystem of the original haul road site and that is why I’ve been working hard in the background with council officers to try and mitigate any potential damage.”
Wildlife campaigner Jenny Chalmers, chairwoman of the Aldborough Hatch Defence Association (AHDA), is cautiously optimistic about Cllr Athwal’s announcement.
She said: “We are pleased that Cllr Athwal appears to be sticking to his word.
“There will still be lots of disruption from the extraction and transport of gravel from Aldborough Hatch Farm near St Peter’s Church, but at least this area will be saved.”
Ms Chalmers said that her group looks forward to viewing the new route in person to confirm it will not harm wildlife.
She also thanked Mary Garrett, owner of the Aldborough Hall Equestrian Centre, for supporting AHDA’s campaign despite the fact her land will be affected by the re-routing.