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Battle for Crossness: Details of proposed data centres revealed

PUBLISHED: 07:00 12 August 2019

The design for the proposed data centre buildings. Picture: Cory

The design for the proposed data centre buildings. Picture: Cory

Archant

The battle to protect a "hidden jewel" of wildlife space in Belvedere continues as plans for two data centres are published.

Cory Riverside, which also has an ongoing proposal for a second incinerator at its site near Crossness Nature Reserve, has submitted detailed plans for the new centres.

Wildlife enthusiasts have been campaigning against both plans fearful of the impact they will have on the acres of green space at the nature reserve, which attracts rare wildlife not spotted elsewhere in the borough.

Early plans for the data centres were approved in 2015 and the energy company has now put forward its detailed proposals.

These plans outlay the size, access and design of the proposals - which have caused a stir with local campaigners.

Cory said in its planning application: "This application is for two, identical data centre buildings on adjacent plots separated by an east-west emergency access route to the nearby sewage treatment plant.

"Both sites will be enclosed by a perimeter security fence with gated access to car parking and vehicle delivery areas controlled by a small guard house.

"The proposals seek to maximise the amount of green space on the site and the landscaping has been designed to promote bio diversity and reflect the habitat of the adjacent nature reserve."

Wildlife campaigners previously petitioned the council against the centres over the impact developments would have on the acres of green space next door frequently visited by rare species.

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Wildlife fans can see rare bats and birds which flock to the green space on the banks of the Thames, which last year was greeted by an extremely rare sighting of the penduline tit.

Campaigners say the developments would drive birds like the red kite, buzzard, marsh harrier or barn owl away from the habitat.

Donna Zimmer, wildlife campaigner and member of environmental group Friends of Crayford Marshes, said: "As if the hideous monstrosity of the design and its visual impact right next to a nature reserve isn't enough to infuriate the local people and Friends of Erith Marshes the fact they have not take into consideration or mitigated for the actual rare wildlife that currently live there is unforgivable!

"We were promised by Bexley Council when they gave permission that mitigation would need to be made but Cory are seeking approval with minimal mitigation."

The data centre proposals are being assessed by planners at Bexley Council with a decision expected to be made by councillors in coming months.

Meanwhile, Cory Riverside Energy has other plans with the government to add an additional incinerator plant to its current site.

The plans have come under fire from the Mayor of London, local councillors and residents concerned with air quality and wildlife.

Cory's incinerator takes waste from across London, not just Bexley, and burns it at high temperatures to generate energy.

Environmental campaigners using the acres of greenbelt land say adding another huge incinerator will drive the rare wildlife across the river, ruining a "hidden jewel" and one of London's few nature reserves.

MPs Teresa Pearce and Sir David Evennett have objected to the application, which is yet to be decided.

Cory said previously: "We're proud to have been based here since our current facility began operations in 2011, and are carrying out an extensive consultation process with the local community, which includes an assessment of our impact on air quality and local wildlife."

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