Heartbreak as Hackney community garden wrecked after flytippers dump 49 tonnes of waste on it
PUBLISHED: 13:57 19 December 2013 | UPDATED: 15:28 19 December 2013
Years of hard work by volunteers to create a flourishing edible meadow was destroyed in one foul swoop, when mindless fly tippers dumped 49 tonnes of waste covering an area the size of a football field.
For the past three years youngsters and adults from the Mabley Green User group have worked on a community gardening programme, transforming a filthy piece of land on the edge of the A12 into a blooming community garden filled with apple and plum trees, herbs, wild garlic, currants and bluebells.
But on Sunday domestic construction waste, including broken glass and rubble, was discarded there – flattening the crops in the glade bordering Lea Conservancy Road.
The cost to the council for clearance and disposal has cost £10,500 so far, and the cost of repairing the damage to the park is likely to run into thousands.
Damian Rafferty, chairman of the Mabley Green users’ group, is “gutted” that they need to start again from scratch.
He said: “I received a message over the weekend saying some rubbish was there but when I went down to investigate I was shocked and heartbroken, frankly. We’d put so much work and effort into it and it meant so much to people. As much effort as I put into it, I know other people put in more.
“When I saw what had happened I thought: ‘How are they all going to feel when they see it’s all been destroyed’. I still feel incredibly sad about the whole thing.”
He continued: “I just can’t believe how selfish the culprits are, they are quite loathsome.
“They could only have had one motive, which was to get a few quid to do illegal dumping. They go around wrecking public spaces for their living. What kind of person would do that?”
Tax on landfill in the UK has created a significant illegal fly-tipping problem as rubbish is dumped in vacant spaces which are not easily monitored.
The council is now reviewing CCTV footage, gathering witness statements and sifting through the waste for clues to find out where it came from and making DVLA checks on vehicles to try to identify the perpetrators.
It is a bigset back for MGUG which wants to turn the space into the world’s largest edible park.
Over 1,200 people have signed a petition calling for the council to ensure a £100,000 community grant earmarked for Mabley Green is spent on the project, and to employ outreach workers for three years to encourage youngsters on nearby deprived estates like Kingsmead to get involved in food growing.
Many people have already volunteered to help clean up the site, but Mr Rafferty says this cannot happen until the travellers who are camped there, have left.
He said: “The truth is until we secure the site to ensure no more vehicles come back on, they might come back and dump a whole load more rubbish on there, there’s only a certain amount of community resource we can muster.”
The council is taking legal steps to evict the Travellers on the unauthorised encampment.
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