Environmentalist criticises Richmond Council over “damaging” restrictions

A Richmond environmentalist has accused council officers of discriminating against his work through the River Thames Visitor Centre (RTVC).

Richmond Council has a strict byelaw which restricts the use of Richmond Riverside for its use on towpath access, but in its implementation, officers have singled out the RTVC and put on additional restrictions.

Council officers had recommended that the RTVC should have additional restrictions because it would cause harm to the setting and landscape of the area, but have failed to take the same action against any other business.

The RTVC is a small boatside project that has been in operation since 2002, and its main purpose is to provide information to the public on raising awareness to provide educational material on the environment.

Founder of the RTVC, Barry Edwards said: “I suspect it is because of the characteristics of the property.

“I am the only environmentalist in the location and they are trying to say it is not a property.”

The RTVC has been granted full planning consent for an environmental exhibition and information centre, therefore being a recognisable premises and registered property.

Mr Edwards says that Council staff had gone against the Planning Committee’s decision and added the restrictions which stops deliveries and collections occurring by motor vehicles, unless subject to an approved servicing management plan.

Mr Edwards claims that as an environmental scientist of 38 years, he would have protection under the Equalities Act 2010, which covers environmentalism under ‘philosophical beliefs’.

Mr Edwards said: “They are discriminating to stop my activities as an environmentalist.

“No other property has had restrictions put on them so it was clearly designed to be different to other properties and damaging to the RTVC.”

The Council did not respond to requests for comment by South West Londoner.

The RTVC is an exhibition and information centre for the benefit of the public, where public groups and meetings are held inside the hold of the vessel for fun, sociable environmental work.

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