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RSPB may charge Havering residents to visit Rainham Marshes

14:48 26 March 2014

The RSPB visitor centre at Rainham Marshes

The RSPB visitor centre at Rainham Marshes

Archant

The RSPB may renege its agreement to allow free entry to the Rainham Marshes for the borough’s residents as it is consulting visitors over charging.

A lapwing spotted in the marshes. Picture: Clive WattsA lapwing spotted in the marshes. Picture: Clive Watts

Havering residents have not paid to visit the nature reserve since it opened in 2006. The agreement was struck as the borough assisted the RSPB in developing the site. The same deal applies with Thurrock’s residents.

Concerned resident Chris Slade, 70, of Clayton Avenue, Upminster, said: “I suspect that the imposition of such charges will deter some people from visiting the Reserve at all which would be a shame as it is a wonderful place.

“The original concessions were because both boroughs gave a lot of help to the RSPB when it was taken over they and agreed residents wouldn’t be charged.”

Rainham representative Cllr Jeff Tucker, of the Independent Residents’ Group, said that Havering council sold the land to the bird charity for a “sensible” price.

He said: “It’s a little bit disappointing. It may be a nominal fee for local people but not for members. We were told there wasn’t going to be a charge but they feel they might have to make a small charge.”

The Veolia North Thames Trust gave financial aid to the purchase of the site by the RSPB and continues to fund the reserve.

Secretary Robin Squire said: “We will make the strongest representations if this was to happen.

“It would involve all sorts of consequences including of our funding.”

An RSPB spokesman said that visitors were being consulted over the possibility to charge residents for access. He stressed that no decision had yet been made.

He said: “If there was an agreement then we will stick to that but no seems to be able to find this document.

“What we are trying to do is find that document and work out if the deal was in perpetuity or whether it was for a set time.”

He added that RSPB members will not be charged for entry.

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