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An EWG statement on the proposed future of Warren Farm

Following publication of plans (https://www.aroundealing.com/news/warren-farm-nature) to reinstate sports facilities at Warren Farm by Ealing Council leader Cllr Peter Mason which claims the compensation will be Local Nature Reserve (LNR) status for the remainder and a newly acquired field alongside, we wish to put out a response ASAP:

A tweet from the Council on the topic

“I’m very disappointed that our leaders are pushing on with plans to destroy half of one our most biodiverse habitats in the borough, home to many rare species and the only site in Ealing where Skylarks can breed, a red listed bird of highest conservation concern. Having contributed to Ealing’s Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) which vows to protect and enhance habitat for this rare bird it’s shocking to hear that it’s apparently either Skylarks or sports facilities for children. This is disingenuous and misleading. We can have both. It’s also extremely concerning to see a real misuse of the term ‘rewilding’ when the plans involve the opposite, de-wilding. Warren Farm has already rewilded. It’s ecocide to undo that process.

Warren Farm is not the place for sports facilities. And Natural England will categorically not grant this plan for Local Nature Reserve status when it will cause local extinction of this precious Skylark population if it goes ahead. There are lots of sports grounds that children can use, and far more suitable sites to make new ones that won’t obliterate nature on such a concerning scale. There’s only one place in Ealing where we can show children Skylarks, an indicator species for a really rich and valuable ecosystem. I’m sure many children would agree to save this amazing natural asset we are lucky to have on our doorstep, and if they had a vote, would ask their Council leader Peter Mason to reconsider this ill thought out plan. It’s stubborn, ignoring the overwhelming consensus of the local community and undermining democracy at worst, and ecologically illiterate at best. 

The Council needs to listen to experts on this if their Climate and Ecological Emergency policy or Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) mean anything at all. Skylarks, Barn Owls, Slow Worms, rare plants and insects, Bats and many other threatened species rely on this whole vast site to thrive, not a damaged portion of it left after new sports facilities swallow it up and leave the remainder for wildlife to share and make do with alongside a more concentrated public using the site currently for exercise, recreation and enjoying nature. The remainder will be a poor replacement and wholly unsuitable for Skylarks who need the large scale meadows currently there to avoid predators, as they are vulnerable ground nesting birds. 

Skylark at Warren Farm by Nigel Bewley

I’m urgently meeting with Cllr Deirdre Costigan and head of parks Chris Bunting next week to discuss implementation of the BAP and how we have got to this stage with Warren Farm as well as wider targets to protect and improve Biodiversity across the whole borough. Ealing Wildlife Group has been very collaborative with the Council over the years to achieve these aims together so we are extremely concerned for our collaborative future with this announcement. I would urge all Councillors to seek expert advice before believing some of the PR spin here being touted as a victory for Warren Farm and its wildlife when the reality couldn’t be further from the truth.

Dr Sean McCormack BSc (Hons), MVB, MRCVS

Founder & Chair, Ealing Wildlife Group”

More information here: https://www.warrenfarmnaturereserve.co.uk/blog/ggbikuhfj677hdrecokz4xubtiawxy

3 Comments

  1. Barry Riches

    Well said. I have been involved with this ongoing saga for over 10 years and it has been a real rollercoaster ride. Having seen off the threat of QPR being given this land by the council for nothing I had hoped that nature had eventually won and that our Skylarks, Barn Owls, Short Eared Owls and many other creatures that have colonised Warren Farm would be safe under London Nature Reserve status. Now the council want to put sports facilities alongside this very special site and this would totally negate all the years of rewilding that have brought these creatures to Ealing. This is a massive mistake and goes against so many of Ealings stated ecological aims that it doesn’t make any sense. This must not be allowed to happen and it would be an unprecedented disaster , against the will of over 14,000 signatories that demand Warren Farm remain intact in its entirety.

  2. Emma Chard-Cumming

    When I read about the Council’s plans this morning, I could not believe it. They are still requesting responses to their Local Plan by 08-Feb-23, yet their “cabinet” will decide on their plans on 25-Jan-23. If they decide to apply to Nature England for nature reserve status, it will be on the basis that will reintroduce sports facilities and not for the entire site!

    According to what I’ve read, it’s been fourteen years since there were sports facilities at Warren Farm and they closed due to lack of use. I’m just stunned at the audacity of Ealing Council to say one thing in the Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) and another in the Local Plan; surely they are one organisation and should have one voice.

    Sean, I wholeheartedly support your excellent response and thank you for taking a stand for wildlife in Ealing.

  3. Andrew Fay

    Well said!
    Ealing Council must not get away with it’s ludicrous plan.
    Nature is immensely important and we need to preserve it.

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