Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Beddington Farmlands Open Day

 Sam Woods 'Corporate birder' 

Hopefully a mile stone day today with the first of the Viridor led nature open days. Public engagement with the site is a primary objective of the site development so good to see this progressing with hopefully,in addition to our bird group public events and associate members tours,  will increase the level of public engagement.

When the incinerator is completed, a reserve ranger will be employed to hopefully develop this side of things even further to include schools visits, researchers accessing the site and a growing local naturalists community through our bird and wildlife group. Eventually as the restoration moves to completion further public access for amenity and recreation will also be introduced outside the nature disturbance free areas.

Still a very long way to go but some very strong positive developments lately including the commitment to creating the wet grassland habitat (starting in a couple of months time), some progress towards securing some kind of future for the Lapwing breeding habitat and today's development with increasing public access.

After several years of decline at the farmlands, things are beginning to look up a bit. However there is still a long way to go and there's no time for complacency or even savouring this moment. New threats are on the horizon and promises are worthless until they are delivered. Also the elephant in the room remains:- the incinerator is a largely unmitigated negative impact on the site that can only be neutralised with development of a visitors centre and ecological hub on the residential side of the resource. As an interim measure there will be visitors facilities on the waste and industrial side of the resource but needless to say such a limited facility will not deliver the full potential of the site as a public resource (e.g. such as the public engagement facilities at the London Wetland Centre or Rainham Marshes). There also remains the possibility of an air quality hazard to local people in the form of minute particles and dioxins from the incinerator.  Recent scientific reports are inconclusive on the nature of this threat. Local groups intend on carrying out independent air quality monitoring to assess this hazard.

However today was a good day for the future of the farmlands and hopefully the start of more of them!

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