BRCS stands ready to help Ealing Council SINC review

sunrise over brent river park

The Brent River and Canal Society is offering its expertise to Ealing Council to assist in the completion of its long overdue review of Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINCs).

In response to the revelation that Ealing Council had not published the findings of its review in 2018 (see previous article), a council spokesperson said:

“As part of Ealing Council’s plans to declare almost two thirds of Warren Farm Playing Fields as a local nature reserve and the remaining third for cricket and football pitches, we agreed to undertake an ecological survey of the site and this is currently being commissioned. When this is complete we will review the results and take this into account in the next stage of our plans for Warren Farm.

“Although there have been previous SINC reports, these are now out of date and a full survey of all the boroughs SINCs is almost complete, ready for publication by the end of September. That SINC survey will be used as evidence to build on our emerging Local Plan.”

In response to this BRCS trustee Phil Belman issued the following statement:

“Ealing Council’s statement that it plans to declare almost two thirds of Warren Farm as a Local Nature Reserve is disingenuous. The proposal the council published on 17 January 2023 would destroy half of the re-wilded area. This open grassland habitat is fundamental for Ealing’s only Skylark population and is the only London site containing the rare Copse Bindweed. It is therefore unlikely that this proposal, when submitted to Natural England, will be approved.

 “We are pleased that the council is carrying out further surveys for a new SINC review. Warren Farm has continued to attract rare species since 2017, so we see no reason why its designation as a SINC should not be confirmed. The Mayor of London’s Environment Strategy states that the SINC review process should include ‘widespread consultation with individuals and organisations with knowledge of the sites and of nature’.

“The council has still not yet set up its expert panel, as is required, so we think it is highly unlikely that it will have completed this process by September 2023. We believe it will take another year because any new sites proposed will have to be surveyed. The Brent River and Canal Society therefore stands ready to work with Ealing Council to help complete this important and long overdue review. We await the council’s call.”

A similar offer of help was also made by London Natural History Society forensic botanist Dr Mark A Spencer

“If Ealing Council need more information in the ecological value of the site, they’re welcome to contact me in my role as London Natural History Society botany recorder. This is an entirely appropriate thing to do and other borough’s SINC review teams quite often seek out expertise.

“How do I know this? I have worked of 5 different borough SINC reviews and never in that time would a survey team decline or ignore information from relevant interested parties.”

Mark has worked closely with the BRCS in mapping the species records on Warren Farm. It would save a lot of time if the council were to work with people who have already carried out a lot of the research.

We hope that Ealing Council will take us both up on our offer.