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Good day for the squirrels

KATHRYN BRAHAM, aged three, was walking her dog Hilly, a five-month-old spaniel, in Oxleas Wood yesterday, writes John Arlidge. Her parents, Alan and Lynne, had told her that the planned route through the wood had been scrapped.

'I am glad the naughty men won't be able to build the road,' she said. 'I like it here. It is better than the park with the swings because there are trees. If they had built the road, the squirrels would have been frightened.'

People living in the area expressed delight that the wood and nearby meadows had been saved. Joanne Le Conte, 30, said: 'I used to come here when I was a child. It is part of our heritage. It would have been devastating to see it go. It is the only place round here for children. All the local schools use it for nature rambles.

'I like it because it is so tranquil - you forget you are in London. You can come here at any time and it is perfectly safe.'

Dick Bird, 69, has walked through the woods twice a day since he had heart bypass surgery last year. He said: 'The road would have passed right by my house. The noise would have been deafening. And it would not just have been the main road but all the little spur roads too. I'm very relieved.'

Sean Duffy, a 45-year-old decorator who lives at nearby Eltham Common, said: 'It is a sin to destroy all that wildlife.' The wood is home to more than 100 species of butterfly and more than 200 species of fungi as well as plants including ancient wood sorrel.