Mayor Livingstone slammed for failing to protect Erith Marshes

The Mayor has only protected part of the site and excluded much of Southmere Green.This means the loss of green space the size of 45 football pitches.

Greens and local residents are appalled that Bexley Council is likely to give the go-ahead for a business park on a greenfield site, one of the few remnants of grazing marsh in the country and home to protected species such as the water vole.

Commenting on the situation, Cllr. Darren Johnson AM, Leader of the Green Party Group in the London Assembly said, “Ken Livingstone is failing to live up to the promises made in his biodiversity strategy. Erith Marshes is an important site for local people and for wildlife and the whole of it needs protecting, not just bits of it. Over the last ten years we have seen green space the size of 1,500 football pitches being lost to development in London. We can’t afford to lose any more.”

Erith Marshes is a much-used open space for its local community, criss-crossed with footpaths as well as being a favourite spot for naturalists and birdwatchers. Historically, local people have enjoyed grazing rights dating back to the reign of Henry the Eighth. But now the Mayor is turning his back on local people and is ignoring their right to open space by allowing further industrial development.

Tim Chapman, local resident explained, “Plans to build yet another business park on this precious open space will significantly worsen the life of local residents. We will miss the use of Southmere Green -walking across the marshland and watching the wildlife.”

In failing to protect the whole site Ken Livingstone is reneging on his own Biodiversity Strategy and draft London Plan which specifically call for the protection of sites of nature conservation importance.

Grazing marshes are considered a national priority for conservation in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.



1. The water vole is a protected species in the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the Wild Mammals (Protection) Action 1996. It is the most rapidly declining mammal in Britain and by 1997 had disappeared from 72% of sites in London where it was found previously.

2. Bexley’s grazing marshes are the only fragments south of the Thames within Greater London, representing 44% of the total resource for the capital.

For further information contact
Keith Magnum, London Green Party Press Officer 07732 465571


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