Ealing Council has been further challenged by Warren Farm Nature Reserve campaigners on how it does Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) reports. The campaigners are questioning why if the council plans to release a 2023 SINC report in September 2023 it “has still not yet set up its expert panel, as is required”.
Following a Freedom of Information request by Ealing Liberal Democrat leader Councillor Gary Malcolm, it was revealed that an unreleased 2018 SINC report recommended Warren Farm Nature Reserve be designated as a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation.
Warren Farm campaigners were further shocked when Labour-run Ealing Council said it will be releasing a new 2023 SINC report in September but hasn’t yet consulted with them or set up an expert panel.
Earlier this week, in a statement to EALING.NEWS, an Ealing Council spokesperson said on the fate of Warren Farm: ”
“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.”
They added: “Although there have been previous SINC reports, these are now out of date and a full survey of all the boroughs SINCs is almost complete, ready for publication by the end of September.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 a direct response to Ealing Council’s statement, Brent River & Canal Society trustee Phil Belman said: “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.”
Mr Berman added: “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.”
Ealing Liberal Democrat leader Councillor Gary Malcolm told EALING.NEWS: “Ealing Labour tried to hide the report for years which showed that Warren Farm should be classed as a SINC so they should do this as soon as is possible. But given the need to reassess the neighbouring locations and with the increase in flaura and fauna on the site I cannot imagine they will do this quickly.”
He added: “Ealing Council needs to conduct a proper consultation with individuals and key organisations who have expert knowledge of the sites and the flora and fauna contained on it.”