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Ealing Council leader Peter Mason challenged by Green Party deputy leader Zack Polanski over Warren Farm “ecocide” and health concerns in Southall

The deputy leader of the Green Party and member of the London Assembly Zack Polanski has written to the leader of Ealing Council, Councillor Peter Mason over controversial council development plans for Warren Farm as well as residents health concerns living next to Southall’s The Green Quarter which was formerly Southall Gasworks.

The email, which has also been copied to Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, comes after a summer spate in which Councillor Mason attacked the Green Party in a number of postings he made on X (formerly Twitter).

The attacks came after Mr Polanski replied to a posting Councillor Mason made about Warren Farm in which he said he was committed for Warren Farm to to have a large sports facility built on the land despite concerns from nature experts that it would amount to “ecocide”.

Despite asking questions in response to Councillor Mason’s postings on X, Mr Polanski didn’t get a reply.  Earlier this month, an Ealing Council spokesperson told EALING.NEWS: “Peter Mason, Ealing Council Leader, has not been contacted directly by either Zack Polanski or Jenny Jones. Should he be contacted through the appropriate channels by the Green London Assembly members, he would answer all relevant questions by reply.”

In a response to Ealing Council and Councillor Mason’s reply, Mr Polanski told EALING.NEWS: “Peter Mason engages on social media up until the point he’s asked questions about the conduct of his council and then shuts down. There are still many outstanding questions both around Warren Farm and the so called “Green Quarter” in Southall.”

He added: “Jenny Jones and I have continually amplified the voices and questions of residents who have written to him. They feel ignored – and often disrespected on both environmental and social justice issues. I’m very happy to send Peter correspondence to both him and London Mayor Sadiq Khan through formal channels if that’s how he’d prefer to respond to their sounding the alarm.”

Mr Polanski has now sent an email to Councillor Mason asking questions about Warren Farm as well as Southall’s The Green Quarter.

The letter asks about Warren Farm

  • “In a response to me (@ZackPolanski) on X (previously Twitter) on 27th July – you posted a picture of what you describe as dilapidation and hard standing. My understanding is that is a tiny fraction of what you intend to build on and de-wild. Is this a commitment that none of the rewilded space will be taken by your proposed sports facility? And if that is not the intention, how much are you planning to take? You have publicly stated that over 60% of Warren Farm will be given Local Nature Reserve designation but that this percentage includes adding on the Imperial College land. Under your published plans, over 50% of rewilded Warren Farm would be de-wilded. And, that this percentage does not include the buffer zones vulnerable wildlife would need from introducing intensely mown pitches, astroturf, floodlights and car parking.”
  • “I understand that the councils plans identified several brownfield sites where sports facilities could be built, or enhancing sports pitches that already exist with better transport links closer to Southall. Why have you rejected the idea of giving rewilded meadow Warren Farm Local Nature Reserve designation in its entirety, (as recommended by environmental experts on the basis of official species records), rewilding the hard-standing at Warren Farm and building facilities on those other sites instead as stated in the councils Sports Strategy?”
  • “Baroness Jenny Jones in the House of Lords tweeted on July 24th that the Warren Farm site is a potential stadium for Southall FC. The owner and chairman of that club is the son of the incumbent MP Virenda Sharma. Can you confirm whether discussions have taken place regarding Southall FCs use of the site?”
  • “Can you confirm that Imperial College London are not involved in the councils proposed plans to build sports facilities on Warren Farm and that their involvement is purely to rewild their privately owned adjacent land that they have leased to the council?”

About Southall’s The Green Quarter, Mr Polanski asked

Zack Polanski meets CASH campaigners in Southall
Zack Polanski meets CASH campaigners in Southall. Photo: Andrée Frieze
  • “Having met with campaigners of CASH, they are primarily concerned about the lack of engagement by the council. Will you commit to meeting with them at the site, so they can give you tour of the site and explain their concerns?”
  • “You wrote to CASH on 12th July 2021 and said, the council will not take any further sponsorship from Berkeley Group. Can you explain how they managed to be named a sponsor of Pride, before that sponsorship was later retracted? (Berkeley goes by several aliases, including Berkeley Homes, Berkeley, Berkeley Foundation, St James, St William, St George, Southall Waterside, The Green Quarter and Jags Sanghera)”
  • “CASH are currently working with Imperial College on biomonitoring research in Southall and examining the health data of the communities living close to contaminated brownfield sites. How do you intend to engage with this research when it is published?”

Over the last few years as Ealing Council announced plans to develop Warren Farm and have a large sports facility on it, opposition has mounted.

More than 23,000 people have signed the Warren Farm Nature Reserve campaign to get Warren Farm designated Local Nature Reserve status.

Businesswoman, environmentalist and Dragon’s Den star Deborah Meaden added her voice of support to save skylarks and other wildlife at Warren Farm from being destroyed in plans by Ealing Council to develop the land into a large sports facility.

Campaigners and nature experts have said if Ealing Council proceeds with its controversial plans, it will amount to “ecocide”.

Warren Farm Nature Reserve campaigners have also spoken of how they have been ignored by Councillor Mason and Ealing Council.

Katie Boyles, Brent River & Canal Society (BRCS) trustee and Warren Farm Nature Reserve campaign organiser told EALING.NEWS: “We are very grateful to Zack Polanski for once again raising the issue of Ealing Council’s hugely unpopular proposal to de-wild Warren Farm Nature Reserve. This would see the loss of a quarter of London’s breeding Skylark population and the extinction of vulnerable plant species, causing a biodiversity net loss knock-on effect.

“Ealing Council has just released a report calling for a new ‘regional park’, citing the benefits of re-wilding, of connected habitats, of nature recovery and of less formal recreation spaces. Yet, at the same time, the council is planning to destroy an area with all these benefits already present to build a sports facility that no-one wants here at Warren Farm. The irony being, that the proposed regional park is within the Brent River Park, which was already recoginsed as a regional park by the council back in 2009. So although it all sounds nice, this is actually nothing new.

“We hope that, by highlighting these issues, it will encourage Ealing’s councillors to think again. Let’s not de-wild an already rewilded site like Warren Farm Nature Reserve has become, let’s protect it with Local Nature Reserve designation instead and let’s enter into a proper dialogue together where we can truly do right by Ealing’s green and blue spaces.”

Angela Fonso, co-ordinator of CASH told EALING.NEWS:  “CASH attended a parliamentary meeting on 13th September hosted by MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle and shared a powerful testimony along with other members of Gasworks Communities United (GCU) about the impact of Berkeley Group’s remediation on physical and mental health. The experience of residents in Southall has led to a biomonitoring project by Imperial College, in the vicinity of the Green Quarter, so we welcome Councillor Peter Mason responding to Zack Polanski’s questions as a matter of urgency.”

Speaking to EALING.NEWS, Neil Reynolds, chair of Ealing Green Party said: “As deputy leader of the party and a London assembly member Zack has been listening to the concerns of local residents in Ealing, Hanwell and Southall. It shows just how seriously the Green Party takes the Labour councils failing and our determination to stand up local residents when Labour takes them for granted.”

 

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