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Why spend £15m on Olympic gun range when we’ve got Rainham?

PUBLISHED: 12:13 15 January 2009 | UPDATED: 13:58 05 October 2010

Dear Editor, THE Olympic authority is planning to squander £15 million on a temporary shooting range at Woolwich for the 2012 Games, which after 15 days will immediately be destroyed. This is madness! The country is heading into a deep recession. London has 300 acres of ex-MoD rifle ranges at Rainham Marshes that could be restored for a fraction of the cost

Open letter to all London MPs, Assembly Members and local councillors:

THE Olympic authority is planning to squander £15 million of London’s rates and taxes on a temporary shooting range at Woolwich for the 2012 Games, which after 15 days will immediately be destroyed. This is madness!

The country is heading into a deep recession. So how could the Olympic committee or any London MP, Assembly Member or local councillor justify £15m on an event that will only last a few days?

London has 300 acres of ex-Ministry of Defence rifle ranges abandoned at Rainham Marshes that could be restored for a fraction of the cost of the proposed temporary venue at Woolwich.

No-one at the Olympics authority or organising committee seemed to be aware when I told them we have 300 acres of abandoned rifle ranges at Rainham, or even knew they existed.

The Olympic authority had chosen Woolwich, I was informed, for aesthetic reasons—apparently it is “photogenic for TV and the worldwide media.”

This type of mindless squandering is only the tip of the Olympic iceberg.

The Olympics were sold’ to Londoners and the great British taxpayer on the understanding they would leave a permanent legacy and would cost less than £3 billion. But the final costs are now rumoured to be £20bn. That legacy would include bankruptcy!

We have laying dormant in Rainham 300 acres of abandoned military rife ranges just waiting to be restored that would also help regenerate a rundown area.

Rainham station on the Fenchurch-to-Southend line sits on the abandoned ranges, just as easy to get to as Woolwich. It also has Thames riverboat and other public transport links and is on the A13 ready made’ dual-carriageway.

But before anyone throws their teddy out of the pram screaming that Rainham Marshes are a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest,’ I would remind them the only reason the marshes have been preserved so long as a unique biodiversity, bird and wildlife oasis in an industrial desert is that they were MoD rifle ranges in the first place!

Nearly all MoD artillery, rifle, tank and RAF bombing ranges are sites of Scientific Interest, the Ministry in Whitehall will tell you. They are among the most excellent wildlife reserves in the UK.

Restoring Rainham’s rifle ranges would mean a permanent legacy after 2012 and help preserve the rare flora and fauna of one of East London’s only remaining surviving marshland.

Tom Mulcahy

St Mary’s Lane, Upminster


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