WEN received this press release from the group campaigning to make Warren Farm a nature reserve:
30 March 2022
In one of its last announcements before the local elections, Ealing Council launched a public consultation on the future of Warren Farm. Leader Peter Mason released a video in which he confirmed the council’s ambition to see the site declared as a Local Nature Reserve and the meadows safeguarded. At the same time, he reiterated his view that some of the site could be allocated for sports.
The Warren Farm Nature Reserve campaign group, which is asking Ealing Council to designate the whole of Warren Farm and its surrounding meadows as a statutory Local Nature Reserve, released the following statement:
‘We are delighted that the council has stated its ambition to create a Local Nature Reserve at Warren Farm and to continue its incredible rewilding. This is a further step in the right direction.
We understand the council’s need to balance different interests when considering the future of Warren Farm. But things have changed a lot in the 12 years since the site was last used for formal sports – or indeed since Warren Farm was an actual farm! We are in a Climate Emergency and we are witnessing biodiversity loss in the UK at an alarming rate. The government now requires councils to achieve Biodiversity Net Gain which we do not believe will be possible if any of Warren Farm’s species-rich habitats are allocated to formal sports usage, whether that be pitches or buildings.
In our discussions with Ealing Council our stance is clear. We want Warren Farm to be given Local Nature Reserve designation in its entirety. This means we want the site to be protected for nature, wildlife, our ground nesting Skylarks, all of the common, rare and vulnerable plants we have recorded here (some of which are red-listed and facing local and national extinction) and for open public access for the enjoyment of the local community irrespective of age, background or ability.’
Campaigners believe that Ealing Council must now prioritise environmental protection over sports provision at Warren Farm. Katie Boyles, Warren Farm Nature Reserve campaign organiser and Brent River & Canal Society Trustee commented:
“There is already first-class sports provision in and around Southall with superb new facilities at Spikes Bridge and at Rectory Park in Northolt. Extensive work has been completed recently to provide amazing sports grounds at Gunnersbury Park and at Wyke Green, just down the road from Warren Farm. Nearby, Norwood Hall Playing Fields is one of several community sites identified as having additional available pitch capacity. What Ealing does not need is a new stadium, floodlighting, astro-turf, car parking or closely mown pitches at Warren Farm. We do want to see local people able to take healthy outdoor exercise and using the network of footpaths at Warren Farm where they can enjoy the song of Skylarks, the sight of our colourful meadows and the rare and threatened species found here.”
They also point out that sports pitches might not be the most effective way of improving the community’s health. It is likely that councils will soon be given targets for improving Healthy Life Expectancy, which is now a government priority. In February 2022, the government stated its intention to close the gap between the best and worst performing local authorities. Ealing’s HLE is below the England average and 21st out of the 32 London Boroughs.
Steven Toft, Warren Farm Nature Reserve campaign officer and Brent River & Canal Society Trustee commented:
“To improve Healthy Life Expectancy, you need a lot of people taking moderate exercise rather than a few already fit people doing vigorous exercise. Leaving Warren Farm as a rewilded area in which we can encourage people to walk and enjoy nature will have a far greater impact on Healthy Life Expectancy than putting sports pitches on the site.”
The proposal to designate Warren Farm as a Local Nature Reserve was published by the Brent River & Canal Society in October 2020. The campaign was launched in January 2021 and its petition now has over 11,000 signatures.
Warren Farm is a unique 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. Local Nature Reserve status would preserve the meadows for future generations and ensure the protection of its rare and endangered species such as the Skylark, a red-listed bird facing UK extinction. The Warren Farm Nature Reserve campaign is urging people to use Ealing Council’s consultation to ask for the entire site to be left in its rewilded state and designated as a Local Nature Reserve.
Twitter & Instagram: @WarrenFarmNR Facebook Group: Warren Farm Nature Reserve