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We launched a consultation to seek views on a proposed temporary amendment to the Epping Forest Act 1878. We’d like you to get involved and have your say, particularly if you live near the area or use it for business or leisure.
The proposal is to use a legislative reform order to make a one-off, temporary amendment to the act. This is to allow the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to use a small part of the area of the forest known as Wanstead flats and build a temporary briefing centre for officers working on the policing operation for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012.
The Home Office has overall responsibility for the safety and security of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The UK has an excellent track record of successfully hosting major events safely and securely and our aim is for everyone to enjoy the 2012 summer of sport and celebration.
However, given the scale of London 2012, the games will pose significant policing and security challenges. They will, for example, require one of the largest policing deployments in UK history - on peak days in London more than 10,000 police officers will be involved, each of whom will need to be briefed and deployed.
Briefing centres - referred to as Muster, Briefing and Deployment Centres in the document - are a tried and trusted feature of large scale police operations. They ensure that large numbers of officers can be efficiently managed.
One of these centres needs to be located near to the Olympic Park in Stratford. The MPS has looked at several sites and has concluded that Wanstead flats is the only location that meets all the requirements they have for this centre.
However, the Epping Forest Act 1878 states that the land must be kept open to the public and not built on. So, to build the centre, the act would need to be temporarily amended by a legislative reform order.
The proposed amendment would be strictly limited to the need for this briefing centre in the summer of 2012. It would be limited to 120 days to allow the police to build, use and dismantle the centre, and would not give any lasting powers to the police or any other bodies in relation to the land on Wanstead flats or elsewhere in Epping Forest. The vast majority of the flats would remain open for public use.
We understand many people use the flats for a variety of purposes and will feel strongly about the land being used in this way.