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A second front opens up in Khimki eco battle

Cut Logs in Cleared Area of ForestKhimki activists are meeting developers in the courtroom today in a bid to save more threatened greenery in their town.

A waterfront park is to become a construction site, and work to prepare the plot for the bulldozers has already started ­ even though the court has yet to give the go-ahead.

And the Defenders of Khimki Forest, fresh from their protracted battle to stop a major road slicing through woodland to the north of the town, are turning their fire on to this battle.

Preserving picnic sites

Wednesday's legal argument comes hard on the heels of a toe-to-toe fight in the park on the shores of the Moskva Canal.

Yevgeniya Chirikova, head of the eco pressure group, insists that the public is united in its determination to stop the development going ahead on a popular site for family picnics.

She tweeted that she had been confronted by angry workers with chainsaws when she visited the site and told The Moscow News that plans to replenish Khimki's greenery elsewhere were not acceptable.

Plans to create a 500 hectare site to replace trees lost to a highway through Khimki Forest have already been downgraded to a 175 hectare site, Kommersant reported.

"It shows the authorities' real intentions," she told The Moscow News. "Nobody has cancelled the plans to urbanise Moscow Region in general."

The Federal Agency for Forestry recently claimed the original replanting plan is not possible.

Residential complex

Alla Chernyshova, a colleague of Chirikova, said that 500 mature trees and 300 shrubs could be lost to the waterside development.

And she believes plans for a luxury residential complex in a protected waterfront zone should be scrapped on both environmental and engineering grounds as promises to plant new trees are being broken.

"What are they going to plant, if they just are going to destroy everything we've got so far!" she said in a telephone interview.

"Yesterday they cut about 10 pussy-willows, but together with policemen we managed to stop it." However she added that next day police officers tried to stop activists.

But she fears that Wednesday's legal bid to halt construction work will be mere window dressing, with little hope of justice being served.

"Nobody would invest in a development that could be potentially halted in court, if they haven't arranged a favourable decision already," Chernyshova told the Moscow News.

Everything in order

Representatives of the developers told RIA Novosti all the paperwork had been sorted.

"If we talk about the cutting, it has been permitted by Khimki administration after considering results of an expert probe," Dmitry Tarasov, representative of construction group "Territory", told the agency.

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