Ealing Council’s regional park proposal: full of good reasons NOT to de-wild Warren Farm

The Brent River and Canal Society welcomes Ealing Council’s proposed expansion of the Brent River Park, a Regional Park since its creation in 1975 and officially recognised as such by the Council in 2009. We are delighted to see that Ealing Council has taken on board our suggestions to extend the Brent River Park, as made in our response to the draft Local Plan in February. While we have yet to see a detailed proposal, in principle the idea has the potential to be very beneficial for our community and wildlife. 

Our society will soon celebrate its 50th anniversary and we thank Councillor Costigan for acknowledging the significant achievements of our founder, Luke FitzHerbert, who worked tirelessly with Ealing Council to achieve his vision of a connected Regional Park.

The council’s rationale for the park echoes many of the points we have been making for some years. As the Creation of a Regional Park report says:

  • The borough’s population is projected to grow which will increase in demand for less formal outdoor spaces for people to be active.
  • Large areas with diverse connected habits offer the best opportunities to encourage wildlife and provide ecological resilience.
  • The loss of wild places leaves us ill-equipped to reduce carbon emissions. 
  • Wetlands and meadows are among the best ways to capture carbon.
  • There is a need to restore natural habitats, increase biodiversity and provide space for nature to re-establish itself. 

A connected park would help to:

  • Reduce the likelihood of floods and sewage overflow; 
  • Provide much needed flood resilience;
  • Provide more opportunities for Ealing’s residents to connect with nature;
  • Improve air quality;
  • Encouraging walking and cycling;
  • Increase community engagement amongst residents and reduce loneliness. 

Given all these valid points, we are surprised and frankly baffled that Ealing Council still appears to be persisting with its plan to de-wild Warren Farm Nature Reserve, which sits within the Brent River Park. The Creation of a Regional Park report advocates,  “A mosaic of connected habitats encompassing the river, meadows, woodland, wetland, ponds and lakes”, “a new generation of wildlife grassland” and “the large-scale restoration of ecosystems to the point where nature can take care of itself”. That’s exactly what the borough currently has in Warren Farm and its surrounding meadows! Surely the council is not intending to spend a significant sum on de-wilding Warren Farm, only to then spend another significant sum on re-wilding elsewhere. 

Ealing Council’s report reads like a manifesto for designating the whole of Warren Farm and its surrounding meadows as a Local Nature Reserve, as we, and our 23,000 supporters, are requesting. 

We are looking forward to the consultation, seeing more detail of what is being proposed and working together with the council on continuing Luke’s vision, from which current and future generations will benefit.