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Met wants protected land as Games police base

The Government wants to change a 132-year-old law to allow the construction of a temporary police headquarters on protected land near the Olympic Games site in London.

A public consultation has been launched by the Home Office to push through a 120-day amendment of the Epping Forest Act 1878 because Metropolitan Police want to use Wanstead Flats in east London to base thousands of staff during the 2012 Games.

The legislation was intended to protect the nature spot, which would be shut to the public while the police use the flats.

The Government claims it could find no other suitable site, adding that the law change will allow “a one-time, temporary and limited enclosure”.

Police and Criminal Justice Minister Nick Herbert said the Met would pay the City of London Corporation, which looks after the forest, 170,000 in lieu of rent so that users of Wanstead Flats “receive lasting benefits”.

Security and Counter-Terrorism Minister Baroness Neville-Jones insisted: “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 proposed amendment to the Epping Forest Act is time-limited and will expire once the Games has finished.

“There is no intention to make this permanent. It is important that this well-loved space is preserved for future use.”

The 12-week consultation will last until December 9.

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