Protest outside Ealing Council over ‘de-wilding’ plans

Image above: Protesters gather outside of Ealing Town Hall on Tuesday evening (21 February); credit Kabir Kaul

Campaign to make Warren Farm a nature reserve continues

A protest against Ealing Council’s plans to re-develop Warren Farm, a ‘unique urban meadow’ in Southall which has been untouched for over a decade, took place on Tuesday evening (21 February), outside Ealing Town Hall.

Ealing Council’s Cabinet has backed plans to turn as much as half of Warren Farm into a large sports facility, which opponents say will harm the natural environment, destroying the habitat of the skylarks which currently live there. Skylarks are an endangered species.

Liberal Democrat councillors including Leader of the Opposition on Ealing Council Gary Malcolm took part in the demonstration, along with Councillor Athena Zissimos, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for the Environment, Deputy Leader of the Green Party Zack Polanski, local environmental groups and residents. Protesters carried placards reading ‘Save our open spaces’ and ‘Stop de-wilding’.

Those who went to the protest claim up to 2,000 people turned up, while others reported a more modest sum of 250. Photos the event suggest it was closer to the latter figure.

Almost 20,000 people have now signed a petition for Warren Farm be made Local Nature Reserve designation for the entire site and surrounding meadows.

 

Image above: Tweet by Cllr Gary Malcolm

‘Significant loss of biodiversity’ should site be redeveloped

Liberal Democrat Councillor Gary Malcolm, Leader of the Opposition, said:

“Liberal Democrats have repeatedly called for the whole of Warren Farm to be designated as a Local Nature Reserve. The council approach means a significant loss of biodiversity and publicly accessible open space. Green space has been shown to be essential to ensuring improved mental health, especially in urban areas. The people of Ealing are speaking but they are not being heard.”

Activist and conservationists Kabir Kaul, who attended the protest on Tuesday, Tweeted:

‘What an evening at Ealing Town Hall! Large numbers of local residents, politicians and supporters attended to protest against @EalingCouncil’s decision to build on wildlife-rich Warren Farm.’

Ealing’s Green Party Tweeted:

‘Tonight’s #SaveWarrenFarm protest was a powerful demonstration, and we are immensely grateful to our deputy leader Zack for joining us and showing his support!’

The Council carried out a consultation between 24 March and 20 May 2022 on Warren Farm, in which they received 1,520 responses (45% from Hanwell, 30% from Ealing town, 16% from Southall and less than 4% from each of the other towns in the borough).

They say that while a majority say it is a valued green space and a wildlife haven, and view it as a precious escape to nature for locals that should be preserved,

‘There is strong consensus that the old buildings at the site should be demolished and the land needs to be rejuvenated.’

‘A number of residents’ support incorporating sports facilities into an enhanced and improved green space and ‘There are calls for a new swimming pool and a leisure centre in the area, albeit not on the grounds of Warren Farm.’

The Council argues:

“Warren Farm is Ealing’s largest outdoor sports ground, but it has been out of use for more than ten years, and the changing rooms and the pavilions are dilapidated. The council remains committed to ensuring that new sports facilities are delivered for the benefit of local people, alongside its ambitious plans for the rewilding of much of the site.”

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