From the office of the Green MEPs

20th February 2003



TWO campaigners fighting development in Crystal Palace Park told Euro-MPs in Brussels today how the Government could be forced to rewrite UK planning law after the European Commission was persuaded to take legal action over Bromley Council’s failure to consider the environmental impact of a proposed multiplex cinema.

Storm Poorun, of Bromley, and West Norwood resident Michael Wiseman, received the support of MEPs from across Europe after they addressed the European Parliament's Petitions Committee at the invitation of London's Green Euro-MP Jean Lambert.

But Mr Poorun warned MEPs trees had already been felled and the park damaged, despite developers pulling the plug on the proposed multiplex two years ago.

Mrs Lambert, a member of the Parliament's petitions committee and an active supporter of the Crystal Palace campaign, said: "I congratulate the Crystal Palace petitioners who helped bring this matter to the attention of the European Commission. Their time and effort has paid off - and hopefully Bromley Council will listen to its residents in the future as a result. It is crucial that local people's opinions are listened to before planning decisions are made - it is them that will have to live with the result".

The campaigners visit to the Brussels Parliament, which was sponsored by Mrs Lambert, comes in the wake of the European Commission's decision in December to take the UK government to the European Court of Justice for failing to conduct an environmental impact assessment of the development, as required by EU rules whenever proposed construction threatens serious effects on those living nearby.

"This case raises important issues about the UK planning system" said Mrs Lambert.

"The multi-stage planning system allows local councils to avoid properly implementing EU rules which say that a full environmental impact assessment must be carried out prior to giving planning permission.

"This means that crucial factors such as the design, external appearance, landscaping and so on - which all determine the effect on local people - don't get taken into account. Also, when plans are changed and added to they don't get assessed again, which makes the process meaningless".

Mr Poorun, one of the Crystal Palace residents who initiated the original petition to the European Parliament on the case, told MEPs: "It is crucial that this EU action leads to changes in the system, or we may end up having to campaign all over again on a new project for this site - the council is considering renewing planning permission for the site for a further 5 years.

"As local residents, we are hoping that loopholes in the UK system will be ironed out and developers and councils will no longer be able to get away with failing to do environmental impact assessments."

He continued: "The local council has already, without consultation, felled 250 mature trees in Crystal Palace park which has damaged wildlife, and deposited rubble and waste. There must also be safeguards to make sure that no irreversible damage to the environment is done before any assessment is carried out, as has happened at Crystal Palace".

Mrs Lambert added "This case is not the only one we have seen concerning the UK's planning system, and I hope that this action by the Commission will lead to positive changes. The Government must make sure that the impact on the local area and environment is fully assessed, in line with EU rules. Also, there is no excuse for not fully involving local people in the planning process".

Note to Editors

For a head & shoulders pic of Storm Poorun in jpeg format please contact Ben on the number below.

For further information contact Ben Duncan on 020 7407 6280 or 07973 823358

Visit the Crystal Palace Campaign Website