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Protests against plans for football stadium on landfill site

By Greg Pitcher

Tony Blairs top environmental advisor has added his weight to protests against plans to build a 23,000-seater football stadium on a flagship landfill regeneration site.

Sir Jonathon Porritt spoke out as concerns grew that Swindon Towns proposals to build on the Shaw Community Forest Park (pictured) would set a precedent at a time when landfill sites were filling up.

More than 46,000 trees have been planted on the old Shaw Tip as part of a project endorsed by a Government investigation into green spaces on old tips.

Porritt shares residents anger at their councils apparent willingness to undo this ground-breaking work by listening to stadium developer St Modwen.

The Sustainable Development Commission chairman said last Friday: Its already a fantastic place you can see emerging out of a dreadful landfill site.

Quite honestly for me the really critical thing is to maintain that co-operation between the council and local communities to bring something that will be here for all time, for all generations.

More than 1,500 people joined in May Day demonstrations organised by the Swindon Forest Protection Group (SFPG) against the football stadium.

SFPG head John Doyle said: The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has suggested the Community Forest could be a showcase for the Wasteland to Parkland initiative.

The council has put a lot of money into the forest which is only in the first of its three phases of development and now it has done a complete turn around.

The May Day protest was the biggest Swindon has seen, and it looks like there will be more.

Swindon Borough Council owns the site of Swindons current ground and rents it to the club, which is vying for promotion to Division One for next season.

A spokesman for the authority said: Swindon Borough Council supports the concept of a community sports stadium and leisure facility in the borough.

The Swindon Town Football Club and St Modwen Properties plc partnership have identified the Shaw Forest Park area as their preferred location for a stadium development.

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