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Green space injunctions: the next stage

Travellers caravans iStock 000010792699XSmall 164x219Where one local authority obtains protection in the form of a borough-wide  injunction to prevent incursions onto its green spaces, a neighbouring borough becomes vulnerable to an increase in incursions. Steven Woolf explains what they should do.

The facts speak for themselves. In the three-week period prior to obtaining its preventative injunction, the London Borough of Enfield was infiltrated 14 times at 14 different locations. The encampments led to huge expense being incurred in clear-up, restoration and other associated costs - not forgetting the huge number of hours which officers in the employ of Enfield had to dedicate to sorting out the problem. However, since I helped them obtain an interim injunction on 21 July (it has since been made final for a period of three years) the borough has only had to deal with three infiltrations and all ended reasonably peacefully without major clear up operations having to be carried out.

A neighbouring borough on the other hand has seen incursions increase dramatically in the same three months. It has had to deal with twice as many incursions since 21 July 2017 than it had to do in the whole of 2015, 2016 and half of 2017 combined.

Clearly other authorities are literally having to pick up the consequences of the protection afforded to those boroughs with green space borough-wide injunction.

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The answer for the neighbouring local authorities is to obtain their own injunctions. Indeed, it is to be noted that when Mr Justice Jay was considering one of the first of such injunctions in the Harlow Case [2017] EWHC 1851 he observed that, although he was duty bound under the balance of convenience test to consider the effect on other districts, boroughs and county councils, there was nothing to stop other councils from taking their own actions on the available evidence.

That is exactly what the neighbouring borough to Enfield has now done with my help; namely obtained its own green space protective injunction. Three days' intense work with me assisting in the preparation of the witness statements and associated paperwork plus a half day in Court and protection was in place. The evidence being so compelling that the learned Judge was prepared to make the interim Order for three months with the return day in mid-January.

If, as seems sensible and necessary all boroughs in North and North East London and the surrounding areas of Essex seek and quite probably obtain preventative injunctions, then the question is where the illegal fly-tippers go next, because what one can be reasonably sure of is that they will be very reluctant to give up their highly lucrative illegal fly-tipping operation.

The answer may well be more incursions onto privately owned land. It is already the case that large car parks, such as out of town supermarkets and multiplex cinema complexes, have been vulnerable to  incursions. It seems inevitable they will be even more vulnerable in the future unless they either spend huge sums on 24 hour security or too take pro-active steps and seek the protection of the Courts in obtaining injunction against the establishment of encampments and the depositing of waste and other materials on their land.

Time will tell but one thing is to be welcomed and that is the Courts’ willingness to take on board the enormous cost both in social and monetary terms of incursions on to green spaces and their willingness to provide prevention and protection injunctions.

Steven Woolf is a barrister at Hardwicke. He can be contacted This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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