Mayor Fails To Endorse Warren Farm Nature Reserve Plan

But Sadiq Khan says council must consider its conservation value

Katie Boyles and Caroline Pidgeon outside City Hall with owl containing petition


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Warren Farm is 'Our Land' Say Campaigners

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There has been a mixed response to a statement by the Mayor of London concerning plans for a nature reserve at Warren Farm.

In answer to a question in the London Assembly from Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon as to whether he would support to convert the area into a nature reserve, Sadiq Khan said that the council must take into account the site’s distinctive value for nature conservation. However, he declined to categorically endorse a nature reserve at the site, despite recently receiving a 10,800 signature petition in support of the plan.

The Mayor’s replied, “Thank you for recently delivering the Warren Farm petition to me. It’s clear how important Warren Farm is to the local community.

“I understand there is a long and complicated history to this site and that the borough is now reviewing how to approach its long-term use and management.

“The Warren Farm Nature Reserve Group clearly have a stake in discussions about the site’s future, and in the context of my London Environment Strategy and London Plan it would be right for any decisions to fully consider its nature conservation value and role in London’s wider network of important greenspaces for people and wildlife.

“Ultimately however, the decision about the most suitable way for this site to be used long-term, including whether Local Nature Reserve status is appropriate, lies with the borough. Natural England also have an advisory role as the statutory body who are legally responsible for declaring Local Nature Reserves.”

Warren Farm is an area of rewilded urban grassland. Species of birds, mammals, plants, reptiles, amphibians and insects which are rare in London have been recorded thriving on the land. The proposal to create a nature reserve, put forward by the Brent River & Canal Society (BRCS), which says the it would ensure the protection of its rare and endangered species such as the Skylark, a red-listed bird facing UK extinction.

The campaign has the support of prominent environmental campaigners, such as young conservationist and wildlife writer Kabir Kaul, Lord Randall of Uxbridge, forensic botanist Mark A Spencer, West London Ramblers, Ealing Wildlife Group, London National Park City, the Barn Owl Trust and CPRE London.

Caroline Pidgeon remarked, “It’s disappointing that the Mayor of London won’t give his full support to the campaign to designate Warren Farm Nature Reserve and the surrounding meadows as a Local Nature Reserve.

“The huge number of local campaigners supporting this campaign are a joy to work with and have a real passion and love for this important area of urban grassland which offers so much to both the local community and London as a whole.

“Both the Mayor of London and the local council need to listen to residents, nearly 11,000 of whom have supported this petition, and join me in getting right behind the fantastic campaign!”

BRCS Trustee and campaign organiser Katie Boyles commented, “When we launched the Warren Farm Nature Reserve campaign back in January, we took the decision to include the Mayor of London in the petition, should our meadow once again be facing another inappropriate, large scale development, such as that endorsed by the previous Ealing Council Leader, Julian Bell.

“We are encouraged that the Mayor of London’s response confirms the importance of Warren Farm for nature conservation and for our meadow’s role in the London Environment Strategy. He acknowledges the stake that the Warren Farm Nature Reserve group have in discussions with Ealing Council to ensure Local Nature Reserve (LNR) designation is obtained and it’s extremely clear to the Mayor just how important and loved our green space is to the local community from the huge level of support being shown to us.

“Of course, we would have loved for the Mayor to have stated that he believes Warren Farm should be given LNR designation, which he clearly felt unable to do at this point in time, which is disappointing. However, our meadows are now very much on his radar thanks to the 10,800 supporters who signed our petition and we will be keeping him informed of our progress.”

Alice Roberts, Head of Green Space Campaigns at CPRE London, said, “Rather than simply leaving this site with no identity, no status, at risk from development, Ealing Council must work with residents to turn it into a nature reserve so it can become a major new park for local residents, schools and others to enjoy. London has less than half the green space it needs for a population its size: sites like this should be cherished, valued and given appropriate status, so Londoners have the access to nature, green space and open skies so important to health and wellbeing.”

Kabir Kaul, Conservationist and Wildlife Writer, said, “Warren Farm Nature Reserve was created this year to campaign for the much-needed protection of Warren Farm and its unique acid grassland. I am glad the Mayor London, Sadiq Khan, has recognised the ecological importance of the site, but it would have been even better if he explicitly expressed support for the designation.”

The campaign describes discussions with Ealing Council leader Peter Mason as ‘constructive’ although he has yet to rule out some form of development on the site. Campaigners are now asking Ealing Council to begin the process of statutory local nature reserve designation for Warren Farm and its surrounding meadows as a matter of urgency.

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November 18, 2021

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