Pickett's Lock comes clean

Owners of the site in north-east London earmarked as the venue for the 2005 World Athletics Championships insist it is more environmentally friendly than Los Angeles or Athens - despite a planned extension to a nearby waste incinerator.

Owners of the site in north-east London earmarked as the venue for the 2005 World Athletics Championships insist it is more environmentally friendly than Los Angeles or Athens - despite a planned extension to a nearby waste incinerator.

Fears have been expressed for the safety of competitors at the Pickett's Lock venue following a report carried out on behalf the company who own the waste disposal plant adjacent to the land planned for the stadium. London Waste's application to extend their site has already been agreed by Nick Raynsford, the Government minister for the capital, and is now awaiting final approval from the Trade and Industry Secretary, Stephen Byers.

But the site owners, Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, have reacted angrily to claims that they rushed through their stadium plans without taking into account the full implications of the extension. They have insisted that the incinerator will pose no risk to the health of athletes or spectators at the stadium.

The 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles were blighted by the notoriously dense smog which affects the American city. A number of athletes, including Britain's Steve Ovett, struggled to overcome the combination of intense heat and a lack of clean air. There are fears that the 2004 Games in Athens may be hit by a similar problem.

But Lee Valley today rejected any notion of a health hazard and argued that the extension would, in fact, make the air cleaner. "The authority regards Pickett's Lock as a perfectly safe site for the staging of the World Athletics Championships in 2005 and other sporting events," said Peter Warren, Lee Valley's head of corporate marketing. "Better by far than Los Angeles in the past and Athens in the future as venues for the Olympics.

"Air quality is already assiduously safeguarded as public health is of paramount importance and stringent European Union directives and UK law govern emissions from waste plants. The design of the proposed extension to the plant will ensure those criteria are met or bettered and emissions will be regularly monitored to ensure compliance."

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