A MUCH-loved environmental project which helps young people in Harrow learn about horticulture and conservation has been shut down.

The Earth Project, based at the Newton Park Allotments, was launched by Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex in 2007, and hailed by environmental groups as a “wonderful idea” which could make a big difference to the environment.

However, Harrow College, which has been managing the centre and funding courses for students and pupils from the borough's schools, has closed it down, saying it is no longer viable.

In a brief statement, Deepa Rai, spokesman for the college, said: “Harrow College has tried to grow land and environment courses at the Earth Project over the last three years.

“Regrettably, the College will not be able to continue to run courses there as they are no longer viable.”

The announcement of the closure has been met by dismay from green groups, and some have suggested the project could be resurrected if there is enough public support.

Gerry Jones, senior lecturer at the Centre for Alternative Technology and University of East London, wrote to the Harrow Times to say: “At a time when there is a need to increase environmental awareness in the population at large and raise the profile of our impact on our planet, it would be tragic if this ground breaking project was abandoned.

“If the Earth Project is closed it will be a very sad day.

“It was a far-sighted decision to start the project and would be a great step back now that the council has made such positive steps in developing an environmental strategy for the borough.”

Judy Long, secretary of Harrow in LEAF, said: “The staff have worked tremendously hard and enthusiastically to build up the project, and to see this investment wasted with little concern for the eventual users, mainly disadvantaged people and school groups, would indeed be a tragedy.

“We feel most strongly that the project should not be allowed to close, and will support any initiative that continues the horticultural, educational and social aims of this valuable resource.

She urged anyone interested in keeping the Earth Project going to email info@harrowinleaf.org.uk.

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