Update 21st Dec: Ealing Council have withdrawn Junction 2 proposal. (Ealing Council set to host Junction 2 music festival at Horsenden West meadows)

21/12/21 5pm UPDATE: Ealing Council have now turned down the proposal to host Junction 2 music festival following urgent talks today.

We are angry and disappointed to have learned in recent days that Ealing Council has agreed to host Junction 2, a dance music festival with up to 15,000 attendees at the ecologically important meadows of Horsenden West. The proposal appears to have reached the event planning and approval stage, yet neither Ealing Wildlife Group (EWG) or Friends of Horsenden Hill (FOHH) have been consulted. This despite both groups being significant stakeholders in habitat management decisions and conservation activities on site. Consultation with stakeholders after a decision has been made and permission granted is not a proper consultation.  

Please sign our petition asking Ealing Council and Junction 2 to consider another more appropriate location for this festival, and read below for more information on why it should not go ahead at this precious site for Ealing’s wildlife and biodiversity.

Petition: https://chng.it/RLZyRVwg

Horsenden West meadows by Sean McCormack
Junction 2 music Festival main stage. Photography for LWE by ShotAway/ Chris Cooper. shotawaydotcom on instagram

Why is Horsenden West unsuitable to host a music festival? 

Horsenden Hill and Horsenden West meadows are a Grade 1 site for London, a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) of the highest priority category – Metropolitan importance, one of 6 such sites in the borough. They are the Queen’s Coronation meadows for London and are outlined as an important site for many priority species in Ealing’s updated but yet to be publicly launched Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP). The site is one of the best sites in Ealing for nature conservation and biodiversity with extremely sensitive, rare and threatened flora and fauna, some found nowhere else in the borough. It is a priority site for Local Nature Reserve (LNR) status, something that both FOHH and EWG have advocated for and supported for several years and that Natural England has approved but has yet to be signed off by the Council.

Horsenden West meadows and hedgerows by Caroline Farrow

EWG’s recently launched ‘Rewilding Ealing’ initiative has reintroduced a locally extinct and nationally threatened species, the harvest mouse. Initial efforts have focused on Horsenden West as the best and largest expanse of suitable habitat Ealing has to offer. So far 187 harvest mice have been released here with hundreds more scheduled for release in early 2022.

Harvest Mouse by Cathy Gilman

The meadows are one of the best examples of wildflower-rich grassland in Ealing which has been decades in the making with careful management under a high level stewardship scheme. Over the past 3-4 years as part of EWG’s joint barn owl conservation project with the Council rangers, more of the meadows and field margins are being managed as rough grassland. This is to encourage greater species diversity and crucially to increase small mammal populations. We’ve seen an upsurge in numbers of Kestrels, Little Owls, Red Kites, Barn Owls, weasels and the first reported sighting of a stoat for many years as a result. 

Horsenden West meadows by Sean McCormack

What harm will this festival cause?

To host a massive music festival on these sensitive meadows and rough grassland will significantly degrade their value and suitability for all of these species, being trampled underfoot by thousands of revellers. Junction 2 is set to take place on June 3rd and 4th 2022, a sensitive time in the life cycle of both the wildflower meadows and many of the wildlife species they support.  

In order to prepare for that timeline we believe significant works to allow site access would need to happen imminently, ahead of the birds’ breeding season. Considering the crew, vehicles, equipment and infrastructure needed for such an event we have no doubt some of the 300 year old hedgerows would need to be removed or at least badly damaged and fragmented. It would also mean that the meadows and rough grassland would need to be mown early, at the peak of the meadow flowering season and butterfly breeding season. Wildflowers would therefore fail to set seed in 2022. Noise and light pollution along with such a level of human disturbance would almost certainly guarantee that any owl chicks in our nest boxes would die as their parents will not be able to provision them with food for two days and nights at this critical time.  

Little Owl chicks in an EWG nest box at Horsenden on 14th May 2021.
Photo: Sean McCormack

Could this damage be undone?

This is not damage that can be mitigated for or paid for afterwards as compensation. These precious habitats and ecosystems took years to establish and create. No amount of money from Junction 2 to undo the damage will have them recover. We are living in a climate and biodiversity crisis, something Ealing Council has said they are keen to play a role in addressing. Presumably if this happens in 2022, with all the associated costs and effort to provide infrastructure to host an event of this scale, then this will become an annual event. Altogether devaluing the nature and integrity of the site. The crowds attending this event will undoubtedly have an impact across the site outside the event space itself and in surrounding neighbourhoods too. 

Junction 2 Photography for LWE by ShotAway/ Chris Cooper. shotawaydotcom on instagram

Is this a legal matter?

Yes, there are serious legal ramifications for hosting an event like this on such an ecologically important site. Horsenden Hill and Horsenden West are home to various legally protected, rare and threatened species such as Great Crested Newts, Bats, Badgers, Brown Hairstreak Butterflies, Dyer’s Greenweed, Barn Owls, Common Lizards and many more. It is a Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation, of the highest priority for protection in London’s biodiversity strategy. We are seeking advice to bring legal action against both Ealing Council and Junction 2 if this goes ahead for directly and indirectly damaging or destroying protected species and their habitats.  

Great Crested Newt handled by an ecologist under license at Horsenden.
Photo: Sean McCormack

WE NEED YOUR HELP!

The ask at this point in time is simple. Please sign our petition asking Ealing Council to find an alternative location to host this festival. 

Please sign our PETITION here

We would strongly suggest a more urban park with amenity grassland. Horsenden West is not a park, it is a nature reserve and entirely inappropriate for this kind of event. Junction 2 cannot go ahead at Horsenden West meadows. 

Signed

Dr Sean McCormack BSc (Hons), MVB, MRCVS

Founder and Chair, Ealing Wildlife Group

Martin Smith

Chair, Friends of Horsenden Hill 

29 Comments

  1. Marbeth Sippy

    This is very bad news! What is Ealing council thinking about? This must not happen!

  2. Vernadene Smith

    This ridiculous proposal will cause massive harm and damage to the wild meadows, harvest mouse and barn owls. It is not a suitable site and local residents have not been consulted.

    • marc thomas

      Can’t let this happen, Ealing Council thinking about money again..

  3. Simon Roberts

    This is an utterly ridiculous decision.

  4. Marianne

    This is not in keeping with the Council’s promises . Surely, they can see that!

  5. Jennifer Liggins

    Rewilding Ealing will be for absolutely nothing if this event goes ahead.
    This event will kill the habitats that these vulnerable creatures have only very recently been lovingly and carefully reintroduced to, for a one day event – all that wildlife gone for a dance festival. Wildlife is far more important than a wild party.

  6. Sandra

    I’m an avid music fan and enjoy live music events as much as I can. However not at a cost to the local wildlife.
    It appears the council been remiss in not consulting with local residents and park rangers before making their decision.

  7. Tracy Cummings

    Have the Council gone mad? Why on Earth would they be willing to destroy all the good work gone Into making the area a natural habitat for wildlife. So sad and in-necessary

  8. RH

    Unlawful, who really wants an invasion of such a large mass of people, which looking glass are these Council people looking into, not knowing whether it will be safe to travel in public or private transport?? Yet again, who has been consulted, EWG being a/the significant player are being insulted which in turn leaves the residents being insulted. What’s the evidence already for catering for so many thousands of visitors. Where do they live? Are they Ealing people? Will those living in poverty get a look in.m? If not why not? – They have the same entitlement. The cost of staffing publicity and security could be sky high and hit the skylarks nesting times at just the wrong time. When will the 70 Councillors set a PROPER and mature approach to climate change. Setting a wise policy to keep open the great spaces for their great grandchildren which they will never see nor care about, as they sizzle to death or die of water shortages.

    When this council says it’s going to listen, it has got to prove it. Over 330,000 residents, versus 70 people. Oh dear!

  9. Laura Somerville

    The proposed festival will cause huge damage to this local nature reserve. Ealing Council appear to place no importance on supporting London’s biodiversity strategy and have not bothered to consult locally. If they want to hold a music festival, it should be held in a park.

  10. Marion Callum

    Has Ealing Council gone mad? Not satisfied with allowing the monstrous, eyesore, flat development in Oldfield Lane, they are intent on destroying Horsenden Hill’s wonderful wildlife? This peaceful, sanctuary is Ealing’s jewel for flora, fauna and residents alike. It is totally unsuitable for this type of event.

  11. Jason Rowlands

    Utterly crazy, money-grabbing idea.

  12. Debbie Edwards

    Greedy greedy council

  13. Louise Howard-Spencer

    Totally inappropriate place to hold a music festival. You absolutely must not destroy wildlife and their habitat for the sake of money – it’s just immoral, and makes you basically a part of just about the biggest problem mankind has globally.

  14. Monica

    With out the respect and understanding of wild life we will suffer even more. It’s not just about cars, please protect what is left.

  15. Barry Riches

    This is an horrendous decision by Ealing Council and would result in massive damage to a much loved and nurtured piece of land which is home to many species which are endangered nationally. In particular Barn Owls, Great Crested Newts and the recently introduced Harvest Mice . Local people have spent decades making this site the wonderful haven it is for wildlife and rare flora and Ealing Council are going to undo all of this for a weekend of mayhem and disruption. Should this be allowed it would show that all the fine words emanating from this council on its environmental principles carry no integrity nor truthfulness…… THIS FESTIVAL MUST NOT BE ALLOWED….

  16. Gilly Hare

    This is simply inappropriate.

  17. Jo Brianti

    More evidence of Ealing Borough Council riding roughshod over people/environment to make money.

    This is a dreadful location with hugd risks for the environment and wildlife and should not go ahead in this location

  18. Diana OSullivan

    I visited this site it is a beautiful space magical if this goes ahead the ground will be ruined and environmentally the wildlife disturbed.
    I thought we were meant to be preserving the planet not killing it!
    Ealing need to reconsider this and why on earth would they promote this during disturbing times of Covid.

  19. Isabel

    Inappropriate plan I just hope this idea is quickly scrapped. We need to protect our wild life, surely they can see that?!

  20. sarah

    I hope all these comments will be sent to Ealing Council,MP s etc

    I cannot believe that a Council which purports to support the environment can agree to this

    It seems to indicate a shortsighted level of ignorance not wanted in anyone in charge of anything .

    This idea ,which is about destroying sone excellent initiatives for wildlife (and thus,humans,by default),needs to be stopped

    I bet a lot of peoole attending such gave NO idea about its implications.
    So..much public information needed ..so they too could insist on a different venue.

    I wonder if you have a way to get the information out via television,as well as all forms of social media…

    Barn owl groups?
    Save Me Trust?
    etc etc

    All very best indeed
    Sarah

  21. Alison Williamson

    Your petition on Change.org is not allowing signatures for some reason.a

  22. Rosemary Nicoll

    Unbelievably insensitive of Ealing Council – cretins of the first degree 🤬

  23. Catherine Mistry

    Appalling. As well as signing I have written to my councillors and the relevant cabinet members and I urge you to do the same. These are the emails for the leader, and the cabinet members in charge of environmental issues and festivals…
    [email protected]
    [email protected]
    [email protected]

  24. Margaret Matthews

    We must conserve our wildlife at all costs.

  25. john green

    This is vandalism! And without consulting residents or Ealing Wildlife and similar groups. It’s not as if there is a shortage of suitable venues for such festivals. Apart from he irreversible damage to wildlife and ruining a wonderful space for ealing residents to enjoy nature, the logistics of parking, massive footfall etc. would be a calamity for everyone.

  26. Jacqueline Dougall

    Absolutely ridiculous, this is heartbreaking.
    The damage this would cause is unthinkable.

  27. Murray

    I like it, might be because i am not retired. I often thought that area would make for a lovely small festival. Maybe just restrict the size down to 5k instead of 15k.

    • Caroline Farrow

      None of us who run EWG are retired and I think I can safely say we all enjoy music festivals. But this particular area cannot withstand the intense foot traffic of even 5 thousand people without suffering irreparable damage.

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