LEYTON: Marshes protesters served with eviction orders (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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LEYTON: Marshes protesters served with eviction orders
PROTESTERS blocking the building of an Olympic training site on public land have been served with eviction notices.
The campaigners, comprising local people and members of the Occupy London movement, have been camped out on Leyton Marshes for more than a week to oppose temporary basketball training courts being built on the green space.
They had succeeded in bringing a halt to construction but are now likely to be forced from the land after the High Court issued eviction orders late last night on behalf of the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) and the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority.
Campaigners are furious that the green space is being closed off to the public and fear the works could cause lasting damage to the beauty spot.
The ODA denied this and promised to return the land to its original condition.
Local group Save Leyton Marshes issued a statement today condemning the orders and pointing to alternative sites for the training ground they claim the ODA has ignored.
It read: "The ODA claim they have "no option" but to take legal action against this peaceful protest. This is fundamentally untrue.
"The ODA chose not to utilize one of several alternative sites that would not require destroying this much loved green space.
"The ODA have refused to engage with local people and their very serious concerns relating not just to loss of green space but alarming health and safety irregularities arising from the construction.
"Why have the ODA and WFC failed to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment when excavating several feet deep into the marsh?
"Why are the ODA and WFC committed to destroying protected public land when viable alternatives which provide legacy and regeneration benefits exist?
"These are the questions to which local residents and councillors want satisfactory answers."
Member Caroline Day said the group will ask the High Court today for 21 days to allow it to prepare a legal case.
An ODA spokesman said: "We regret that it has been necessary to pursue this course of action, but have no option in order to fulfil the ODA’s obligations to provide practice facilities for Olympic and Paralympic athletes."
A spokeswoman for Lee Valley Park said: "We always take action where we have knowledge of an unlawful use of our land and in this case we are keen to safeguard Leyton Marsh."
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