Over 6,000 back campaign to protect the local habitat
Warren Farm. Picture: Brent River & Canal Society
More than 6,000 people have backed a campaign to protect a much-loved meadow and its habitats by granting it Local Nature Reserve (LNR) status.
A petition circulating online calls for urgent action to stop Warren Farm Nature Reserve and its surrounding spaces by the River Brent being lost to future development.
The 61-acre green space in Norwood Green was earmarked for a new training ground for Queen’s Park Rangers Football Club, but after a near-decade-long battle with local opposition groups, the plan fell through last year.
Campaigners say over the years after the field stopped being used for sports, the meadow has become a “unique urban grassland” with rare and endangered species such as the Skylark making it their home.
The bid to grant Warren Farm statutory LNR designation, which is in the power of local authorities, was the proposal of the Brent River & Canal Society (BRCS).
Its members believe the surrounding green spaces around Warren Farm, including the Jubilee Meadow, Trumper’s Field, Blackberry Corner and Fox Meadow, should be brought together to form a large LNR with Warren Farm at the centre.
In its first week of the campaign going live in January, the petition gained 3,000 signatures, which has doubled to 6,014 supporters up to 22 February.
Campaigners say biodiversity and wildlife has increased. Picture: Brent River & Canal Society
Campaign organiser and BRCS trustee Katie Boyles said. “The Wildlife Trust has called on the government to create ‘Wildbelt’ land across urban areas of Britain – land specifically designated for nature recovery.
“We don’t need to look far in Ealing because we can do just this at Warren Farm. With only two per cent of wildflower meadows left in the UK, it is crucial that these meadow habitats are safeguarded from future development.”
“The Covid crisis has shown us the importance of access to nature, improving our health and well-being. We are also facing a climate emergency and with the UK being ranked as one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world, there has never been a more crucial time to protect sites such as Warren Farm.”
Since the launch, the cause has also secured further support from the Ramblers Association West London Group which has nearly 500 members, mainly made up of Ealing residents who walk through these “precious urban meadows.”
BRCS trustee Phil Belman added, “Our expert surveys have provided overwhelming evidence to justify the Statutory Local Nature Reserve designation.”
“BRCS offers our support, experience and expertise to assist council officers to achieve this vision and we stand ready to work in partnership with Ealing Council and all others who sign up to it.”
It is understood Ealing Council voted more than a decade ago to seek LNR status for the surrounding meadows but has yet to complete the work. The campaign wants to extend this commitment to the wider area including Warren Farm’s abandoned sports field.
But despite QPR’s ambition falling short of bringing the field back into use, Ealing Council leader Julian Bell said the authority has not abandoned plans to install a sports ground.
Speaking after the QPR announcement in May 2020, Cllr Bell said: “Warren Farm has always been a playing field and our ambition to develop first class sporting facilities for the borough’s young people remains unchanged. We will be looking at how this can be funded once the Covid-19 emergency is over.”
An Ealing Council spokesperson said, “Ealing Council continues to review its options for the provision of community sports facilities at Warren Farm.
“Warren Farm has always been a playing field and our ambition to develop first class sporting facilities for the borough’s young people remains unchanged. We will be looking at how this can be funded once the COVID-19 emergency is over.
“Giving people access to sport and setting good exercise habits will keep people heathier and take the pressure off our NHS in the long run.”
To view the petition go to click here.
February 25, 2021