Haul Road Saga – *Haul Road work to start July/Aug 2021*
The haul road saga began in June 2017, when a gravel extraction application was approved by planning committee Councillors. A year later residents discovered “the threat to Fairlop Waters” as more in-depth diagrams were released about the location of the path.
Ms Chalmers said the most recent route plan was only discovered by and “eagle-eyed” AHDA member and the local authority could have been open and told the group “in advance”. “This is another example of their disregard for green belt land and the environment and it cannot be allowed to happen.”
Our petition was backed by more than 2,400 people – the local authority was lobbied. After leader of the council, Cllr Jas Athwal, spent hours renegotiating the route with construction firm Brett Tarmac, we thought we had won in early 2019, but just a few short months later this was not the case.
We campaigned to have the road re-routed to adjacent grazing ground where they it would have “less environmental and pollution impact”.
Why this is so important
This is an important area for the biodiversity of Fairlop Waters Country Park and if it goes ahead will disrupt a long eared owl roost, an area for amphibians (Including great crested newt) and reptiles, and not so common birds on passage such as spotted flycatchers, wheatears, redstarts, winchat etc.
There are important species to find on Fairlop Plain, up till now was thought to have been totally lost to the area. There is also quite a bit of bat activity along the strip though species are currently unknown as only seen on remote trail cams.
As well as being disruptive to users of the country parks bridleways and footpaths especially the crossing point from Aldborough Hall Equestrian Centre, we expect dust generated from the road surface to also be a health issue. Lorries will potentially be travelling along the road in both directions at up to 3.5 minute intervals.
We believe that this haul road is divisive to the community and cannot be accepted by those that care about the natural environment of Redbridge and the protected species whose habitat would be destroyed forever.
June 2017 Planning application for gravel extraction in Areas E and F approved by Planning Committee.
June 2018 Discovered the threat to Fairlop Waters – the haul road for gravel extraction was shown on plans to pass through an area of the Local Nature Reserve, important for wildlife, within Fairlop Waters Country Park. We didn’t find out before as diagrams and information on its location were very poor.
July 2018 Campaign began to have the haul road re-routed to adjacent, parallel grazing ground where it would have less environmental and pollution impact.
August 2018 We found out through freedom of information requests that the boundary of Fairlop Waters had been changed in 2009 to accommodate the haul road. This was done in a deal done between planning officers using delegated powers and the then Brett Lefarge. Councillors on the planning committee at the time and staff at Fairlop Waters did not know about this.
9th August 2018 Wrote to Councillor Athwal and local councillors regarding our concerns about haul road going into Fairlop Waters Country Park.
31 August 2018 Petition set up, soon reached 2,500 signatures.
5th November 2018 Councillor John Howard visited the haul road site.
22nd November 2018 Deputation from AHDA and Wildlife Groups appealed to full council to move haul road out of Fairlop Waters Country Park and onto the grazing land. Unanimous decision made by council to have it moved out of Fairlop Waters. (Received no written response regarding the decision and our deputation was not mentioned in the written minutes. In the audio recording you could only here the councillors’ questions and nothing said by us).
A series of question and answers followed from the assembled Councillors when finally Cllr Athwal asked the final question:https://www.ilfordrecorder.co.uk/news/local-council/fairlop-waters-gravel-lorries-wildlife-reprieve-3196648
“My question is, if we move the haul road to the area that you suggested, would that meet your requirements?”
I replied “It is a compromise, from our perspective that is the least evil route.”
Cllr Athwal replied “Done!”
There were smiles from the assembled Councillors and jubilation from the supporters that braved the cold night to be in the gallery.
28 January 2019 Met with Simon Treacy of BTL, Councillor Howard and Francis Castro of Vision on the site. They showed us the already pegged out route which had passed right through the woodland area in Fairlop Waters, completely against what was agreed in the council meeting. BTL had put up signs in Fairlop Waters to say the area would be cleared in February. Contacted the press to suggest Councillor Athwal does not keep his word.
11 February 2019 Email received from Councillor Athwal suggesting we ‘bear with him’ and he would sort it out.
3rd May 2019 Noticed on some of the new haul road planning application documents that the haul road is still being routed through part of the disputed area in Fairlop Waters Country Park.
13th May 2019 Jenny Chalmers spoke at the Overview Committee protesting about the fact that it appeared on plans that part of the haul road still due to go through Fairlop Waters Country Park
14th May 2019 Email from Overview Committee to say that they were referring the concerns regarding the haul road to Place Scrutiny Committee.
29th May 2019 Email from Matthew Essex, Operational Director for regeneration, property and planning, confirming that part of the haul road will still go through “what you describe as the Country Park”. He also said there is “no mechanism for us to conduct an independent review”and anyway there is no need for one. He said, “the whole planning process had been conducted with complete transparency”, despite the fact that the AHDA and local councillors were not told the Haul Road would still go through Fairlop Waters.
30th May 2019 Councillors John Howard and Debbie Kaur-Thiara both wrote to Matthew Essex asking why there were not told that the Councillors’ decisions were not being followed.
Jenny Chalmers Chair, Aldborough Hatch Defence Association 12-5-19
For Clarification – Matthew Essex.
Redbridge call Fairlop Waters – ‘Fairlop Waters Country Park’ https://www.redbridge.gov.uk/leisure-sport-and-the-arts/parks/fairlop-waters-country-park/ as does Vision https://visionrcl.org.uk/centre/fairlop-waters-country-park/