Olympic project's green legacy

A NORFOLK nursery is helping to create a new green lung in the heart of the east London after being awarded a prestigious contract with the 2012 Olympics.

A NORFOLK nursery is helping to create a new green lung in the heart of the east London after being awarded a prestigious contract with the 2012 Olympics.

The head of the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) visited the company, near Thetford, on Friday which is growing more than 300,000 wetland plants for the riverside area of the Olympic Park.

Salix River and Wetland Services in Croxton is one of 77 businesses in the east of England that has secured lucrative contracts to help create the sporting venues, Olympic village, and parklands as part of the �9bn London games.

John Armitt, chairman of the ODA, said the Norfolk firm was making a valuable colourful and environmental contribution to regenerate the riverside area of the 100ha Olympic Park for residents and wildlife.

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More than 30 species of native reeds, rushes, grasses, sedges, wildflowers, and irises are maturing in waterbeds and pallets near Thetford at the largest wetland plant nursery in Europe, which will be planted in the Olympic parklands next year.

Mr Armitt said the ODA had already awarded �5bn worth of contracts to 1,000 companies across the UK, which would employ many more sub-contractors. He added that there was still an opportunity for other businesses in the region to get involved in the 2012 games.

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“We are on time and ahead of schedule and within budget. We are going well and guarding against being complacent.”

“We are building the theatre and the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) will have another �1bn of contracts to let over the next few years.”

“It is vital that we want to see people outside London get involved and that it is not just London games. The fact people are retaining jobs as a result of Olympic jobs at a time of recession is fantastic,” he said.

Mr Armitt, the former chief executive of Network Rail, added that the work of Salix was “absolutely critical” for the creation of the new parklands in east London, which will leave a lasting legacy after the Olympics.

Edward Raker , chairman of Salix, which was formed in Croxton in 2005, said the contract had enabled the company to increase the size of the nursery and to take on extra staff.

“It is a major feather in our cap. The Olympic wetland project is the biggest urban wetland project in the UK in living memory and people will see our products there for years to come and that will be a major boost,” he said.

A third of the cuttings and seeds for the project were collected from in and around the Olympic site before construction started in May 2008. The wetland species are set to be planted from the spring time.

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