A couple of hours ago, the Home Office announced the start of a twelve week period of consultation on proposals to amend the Epping Forest Act 1878 to allow the police to put an Olympics briefing centre on Wanstead Flats for 120 days during 2012. The consultation ends on 9 December.
The Security and Counter-Terrorism Minister Baroness Neville-Jones is quoted as saying:
Thanks undoubtedly to the resistance by local residents to the plans, the Home Office press release is at great pains to emphasise that the proposed amendment will be time limited. However, whilst Neville-Jones also says that "there is no intention to make this permanent, it is important that this well loved space is preserved for future use,” this doesn't address the question of the dangerous precedent that the proposals will set.
"London 2012 poses a unique policing challenge and this temporary amendment will help to deliver a safe and secure Olympic and Paralympic Games as well as safeguarding the long term needs of the local people in the Wanstead Flats area".
The consultation is a precursor to the presentation to Parliament of a Legislative Reform Order (LRO), but when the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act was introduced in 2006, the government promised that LROs would not be used to deliver highly controversial proposals (see this PDF guidance for officials from the Department of Business, Innovation & Skills).
The consultation includes the following documents:
Proposed temporary amendment to the Epping forest Act 1878 [PDF file - 352Kb]
Ecological constraints plan (figure 1) [PDF file - 1Mb]
Phase 1 habitat plan (figure 2) [PDF file - 803Kb]
Phase 1 habitat report [PDF file - 239Kb]
Responses need to be sent back to the Home Office by THURSDAY 9 DECEMBER to:
Wanstead Flats Consultation
Olympic and Paralympic Security Directorate
1 Churchill Place,
London E14 5HB