Senior Bromley Councillors and officers, and developer London & Regional Properties have declined repeated opportunities to halt, or deny, an imminent secret plan to fell some 150 trees on the park ridge site of the proposed Crystal Palace multiplex. Now Mayor Ken Livingstone's environment adviser Darren Johnson has written to Borough Secretary Walter Million urging a stay on the felling.

The plan is for the trees to be felled within four hours, one Sunday before the nesting season begins at the end of February, according to an authoritative source who contacted the Crystal Palace Campaign. The protest group has alerted local residents, many of whom have expressed outrage.

The first to evade the issue was Cllr Chris Gaster, chair of Bromley's Leisure & Community Services Committee. Asked in writing whether the trees would be felled before the nesting season and/or before the European Commission had ruled whether an environmental impact assessment for the multiplex must be conducted, Mr Gaster at the January 25th committee meeting declined to allow the question to be put. He insisted questions must be asked in the order submitted. He then ruled the trees question would get an answer in writing.

Dated January 26, and signed by Paul Hughes head of Committee Services, the answer came close to confirming the secret plan, in the view of the Crystal Palace Campaign. It stated:

"The development of the site, in accordance with the planning permission which has been granted, will require the felling of trees. The commencement date of the development is a matter for the developer in consultation with the Council. We will of course meet all relevant legal obligations".

L&RP director, Geoffrey Springer, telephoned by the Crystal Palace campaign, declined to give any undertakings not to proceed with the felling until all legal issues had been resolved. He said he would not reply to two CPC letters requesting such undertakings. He was reminded that last November he had told Bromley magistrates, on oath that construction would not begin until October 1 2001. Could his position now be taken to be that he was indeed preparing to cut down the trees ahead of the nesting season? He answered that he was not prepared to have a debate now but that "Once all this is over we can have a debate".

CPC spokesman Fred Emery commented:

"We are still waiting for a satisfactory reply from Mr Million. Why cannot both Bromley -- which still has the responsibility for the site -- and the developer give a simple answer to this: Yes or No, is there a plan to cut down these trees before all the legal issues have been settled? Secondly, why now, given that work is not supposed to begin until October?”

Press Officer: Fred Emery 020 8761 0076 Mobile: 0794 117 2023
All correspondence to: Hon Secretary, 33 HogarthCourt, Fountain Drive, London SE19 1UY
E-mail: fred@syre.demon.co.uk Website: www.crystal.dircon.co.uk

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30/1/01 Last updated 30/1/01