**This written ministerial statment was laid in the House of Commons on 20 January 2011 by Nick Herbert, and in the House of Lords by Baroness Neville-Jones.
On 16 September (col 62WS) I announced that the government was undertaking a three month public consultation on a proposed Legislative Reform Order to make a temporary amendment to the Epping Forest Act 1878.
The proposed Legislative Reform Order (to be made under the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006), will enable the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to construct a temporary Muster, Briefing and Deployment Centre on Wanstead Flats, part of Epping Forest. It is proposed that this will take place for a period of 90 days during the summer of 2012 to support the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The consultation closed on 9 December and I am grateful to those who responded. 24 responses were received (as well as a further seven responses, which may have been from the same people, sent to the Home Office website) during the course of the twelve week public consultation. Of these 31 responses, eighteen were against, eight were broadly supportive of the proposal or had no specific objections and five were ambivalent or did not address the consultation questions.
The main points to emerge from the consultation were:
- the fear that the proposals would set a precedent for future development of the area and that the Muster, Briefing and Deployment Centre might remain on site
- lack of information as to alternative sites
- doubt as to whether the Legislative Reform Order would apply for 120 days or 90 days
- doubt that the £170,000 payment in lieu of rent would be forthcoming to provide facilities for children and environmental improvements in the local area
The government is confident that these points will be met:
- the government has made clear that the security requirements of the Games are wholly exceptional and that they constitute no precedent whatever for future development of Wanstead Flats. The government can see no circumstances in which something similar on Wanstead Flats would be required in the future
- the MPS has published, as planned, details of its site evaluation criteria (as well as its long and short lists of proposed sites) as part of its planning permission application to Redbridge Borough Council. This showed that no other site met all the relevant criteria
- the MPS has confirmed that it will only require the site for a maximum period of 90 days. This limitation will be written into the Legislative Reform Order
- the City of London Corporation has said (and confirmed in public correspondence) that the £170,000 payment in lieu of rent will be used to fund long term lasting improvements to Epping Forest. Local people will also be consulted on how it should be spent. This funding is addition to the cost of making good the site which will be borne separately by the MPS
One other issue to emerge during the course of the consultation was the proposed use of the Legislative Reform Order temporarily to remove the “burden” of the criminal offence in s34 of the Epping Forest Act. During the consultation it became apparent that s34 of the 1878 Act has in fact lapsed and that the criminal offence relating to enclosure of land on Epping Forest (which needs to be removed on a temporary basis by the proposed Legislative Reform Order) arises under byelaws made under s36 of the Epping Forest Act 1878 rather than s34 of the Act. We consider that the consultation remains valid and the proposed Legislative Reform Order can proceed.
Muster, briefing and deployment centres are a tried and tested feature of large scale police operations and will be a vital element of operational policing plans for the Games. Given that the Government and other parties are in a position to meet the points made during consultation, it will now bring forward the proposed Legislative Reform Order during 2011. As the consultation document made clear, the Order will remove the prohibition on the enclosure of land for the Fairground Site part of Wanstead Flats in the summer of 2012 on a temporary basis only. The proposed Legislative Reform Order will make no permanent changes to the 1878 Act nor will any lasting powers relating to Wanstead Flats or Epping Forest be conferred on the Police or any other public body. Full protection under the Act will resume at the end of the period.
A draft Legislative Reform Order and accompanying Explanatory Document will be laid before Parliament under section 14 of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006 for scrutiny and consideration. The consultation responses have also been published in full on the Home Office website and copies have been placed in the House library.
Date: Thu Jan 20 10:30:43 GMT 2011