Opponents of an eruv for north-west London's Orthodox Jewish community may mount a court challenge, writes Helen Nowicka.

Two weeks ago, John Gummer, Secretary of State for the Environment, ruled in favour of the eruv in Hampstead Garden Suburb, Hendon and Golders Green. Within its boundaries strict Sabbath laws can be relaxed, allowing for the pushing of prams for example.

The decision comes after a planning inquiry decided the eruv would not harm the character of the district, part of which is a conservation area. Roads and rail lines form much of the 11-mile perimeter, other parts being marked by poles linked with fine wire.

Critics are combing the planning inspector's 55-page report for grounds to appeal. Elizabeth Lawrence, co-ordinator of Barnet Eruv Objectors Group, said: 'An area of six and a half square miles is being marked out specifically as a Jewish area. A number of people including some Jews are concerned.'

Edward Black, a member of the United Synagogue Eruv Committee, said: 'There are eruvs all over the world. They are appreciated by the Sabbath observant community to whom they matter, and pass unnoticed by the people who don't use them.

'We had hoped all sides of the community would put their differences behind them and move forward in the spirit of mutual respect.'