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Tunnel threat' at Olympic park

PUBLISHED: 12:04 15 October 2009 | UPDATED: 17:15 25 August 2010

PROTEST:  Hundreds march through Greenwich Park to voice their concerns.

PROTEST: Hundreds march through Greenwich Park to voice their concerns.

PROTESTERS marched through a park to protest at planned Olympic events that, they claim, pose a threat to visitors. Members of campaign group, No to Greenwich Olympic Equestrian Events, formed a human ring in Greenwich Park last Sunday to protest agains

PROTESTERS marched through a park to protest at planned Olympic events that, they claim, pose a threat to visitors.

Members of campaign group, No to Greenwich Olympic Equestrian Events, formed a human ring in Greenwich Park last Sunday to protest against the use of the venue for 2012 horse riding events.

The group's spokesman, Sev D'Souza, said that a labyrinth of tunnels underneath the park could be weakened by high numbers of visitors, putting both tourists and horse riders at risk. Roman archaeological heritage on the east side of the park buried just below the surface, could, it was claimed, be permanently damaged by cross country events set for the park.

Mr D'Souza said: "There is a possibility that tunnel entrances could be weakened. "The organisers know about the dangers but nobody knows where the tunnels are exactly so it's impossible to design a course that can definitely avoid them.

"A horse rider, or higher concentrations of people currently visiting the park, could lead to holes opening up.

"There is also no way of putting in a cross country course without risking damage to Roman archaeology known to exist in the park just beneath the surface."

Part of the park will need to be closed for six months to allow a 23,000 seat stadium to be built. The whole park will be closed for one month during the Games.

Organisers, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) met with Greenwich residents' groups on September 23 at Blackheath Halls to reassure people at the invitation-only meeting that the park would not be damaged.

A spokesperson for LOCOG said: "We are aware of the network of underground tunnels at Greenwich Park, because we have done detailed surveys on them as part of our site investigation work.

"We have also done detailed surveys on all the ecological and archaeological aspects of the park and we will work our way around all the sensitive areas. We are working closely with The Royal Parks on all aspects of our plans and will sign a legally binding agreement with them to ensure the park is returned to them in the state in which we received it."

Detailed plans are due to be submitted to the council at the end of November.

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