Friday 31 January 2014

Why we must protect Beddington Farmlands and Stop the South London Incinerator- a quick summary


Beddington Farmlands is being developed into a 400 acre urban nature reserve within the core land of the Wandle Valley Regional Park. The nature reserve has the potential to be an important educational and amenity resource for the 1.6 million people who live in the surrounding area and can provide long term sustainable employment opportunities through reserve management. Addressing 'nature deficiency disorder' for both the under and over-privileged people of South London can be an immense contribution to the well being of the local society. Connecting with nature through bird and nature watching, walking, cycling, conservation work and educational activities can address so many social problems encountered in an overcrowded and stressed city and can contribute to staying physically healthy through outdoor activities and also helping city people to get outside, learn about nature and chill out.


Beddington Farmlands hosts some nationally important populations of birds including the Tree Sparrow, Lapwing, Skylark, Song Thrush, Reed Bunting, Linnet, Water Pipit and Green Sandpiper. 256 species have been recorded on the site, over 150 species each year and over 500 breeding territories of 50 species are held each year. Breeding species include a colony of Sand Martin and up to 25 pairs of Lapwing.
Wintering birds include good numbers of waterfowl, wintering owls, Jack Snipe and the site is nationally important for Caspian Gull.The site is also an important migration stopover and has a history of a long list of national scarcities and rarities.
The habitat is being restored to protect these birds, which have been disturbed during waste management activities on site. One of the most important habitats being developed is Wet Grassland which serves the majority of target species within the Conservation Management Plan- critically the incinerator is planned to be built on this habitat type. 
Tree Sparrow

Beddington Farmlands is also very important for other wildlife. There have been 476 species of moth recorded of which 60 are of conservation interest including probably the only resident population of the Dewick's Plusia in the whole of the UK. Other locally important species include the Large Wainscot, Webb's Wainscot, Small Elephant Hawkmoth and many others.
There are also 9 species of bat, a population of Common Lizards and hundreds of other insects have been documented including over 300 species of beetle and 350 species of fly including a species that was considered extinct for 100 years.Over 300 species of plant have also been recorded.
The restoration habitat includes wet grassland, reed bed, species rich grassland and also acid grassland. These habitats will provide replacement and also new and important opportunities for the rich ecological system that has been disturbed during the waste management activities on site.

Elephant hawkmoth

Beddington Farmlands is Metropolitan Open Land and a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC). It also forms part of the coreland of the Wandle Valley Regional Park so the building of an incinerator on the site will be in conflict with London Plan Policy 7.17, the Core Planning Stategy Policy PMP9 and the current Conservation Management Plan and conditions set out in the 1995 (amended 2005) planning applications. The permitted planning application contains minimal mitigation and negative effect neutralising measures and nothing in the way of enabling measures. It is simple destruction of habitat and erosion of environmental and social policy and law.

Beddington Farmlands is a protected site and forms part of the protective network of habitats across not only London but the whole of the UK. The State of Nature Report 2013 compiled by an alliance of the UK's largest conservation organisations concludes that over 60% of the biodiversity of the UK has declined in the last few decades. Biodiversity is a human quality of life indicator so not only is that a loss for nature but also a loss in the quality of life of the human population. What does remain of biodiversity in the UK has been concentrated in the protected network of reserves and green corridors which stretches across the country. Beddington Farmlands forms part of that protected network and like all the other areas of what remains needs to remain securely protected. 

Sign the petition to stop the incinerator:

Tuesday 28 January 2014

Why we must protect Beddington Farmlands and Stop the South London Incinerator #4

Beddington Farmlands is home to important and rare populations of birds. An incredible 256 species of bird have been recorded on the site with over 150 species recorded each year. 

Over 40 Red Data List (of highest most conservation concern) have been recorded with several species actually breeding on site: Northern Lapwing, Common Cuckoo, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Skylark, Song Thrush, House and Tree Sparrow and historically Marsh Warbler. Nationally scarce visitors have also bred on site including Bluethroat, Spotted Crake and Little Bittern. 

The site is also a very important migration stop over and re-fuelling location and very rare birds are frequently recorded sometimes attracting twitchers from all over the country. Some of the most rare birds recorded include Glaucous-winged Gull from Alaska, Killdeer from North America, Pacific Golden Plover from Siberia and other vagrants from the Mediterranean, the Arctic and the Near East. 

 Tree Sparrow- traditionally the site has been one of the UK's strongholds for this species but unfortunately numbers have recently crashed ahead of arrangements to build the Incinerator 
 Northern Lapwing- over 20 pairs breed in good years. An exceptional number of pairs for this iconic farmlands bird thriving in the heart of an urban environment 
 Curlew Sandpiper- one of many migrant wader species that re-fuel on their journey between the breeding grounds in the High Arctic and the wintering grounds further South (as far as Sub-Saharan Africa) 
 A traditional winter visitor to the site which has been lost due to over-intensive land use. As the nature reserve develops over the coming years it is hoped that this magnificent bird graces the grasslands of Beddington Farmlands once again. (photo by Roger Browne) 
 Northern Wheatear- one of many migrant passerine species which utilise Beddington Farmlands as part of their life cycle. Stop-over sites are so important for conservation as they provide the link between the breeding and wintering areas. 
 Common Kestrel- one of up to 50 breeding (territory holding) species on site. Common Kestrel is listed as Amber- which is of medium conservation concern. 
Cetti's Warbler- being ringed as part of the on going migration studies at Beddington Farmlands. Understanding migration behaviour of individual species is essential in species conservation.


Permission has been granted by the local authority and endorsed by the London Mayor and Central Government to build an incinerator on Beddington Farmlands despite the applicants breach of previous planning conditions (to deliver a BAP habitat specific nature reserve as part of a Regional Park by 2015 to 2023), inadequate mitigation measures, loss of important Wet Grassland habitat and loss of Metropolitan Open Land.

Judicial Review Proceedings have been commenced to bring the matter to court in order for the case to be reviewed and to question why the local authority, the Mayor and Central Government are allowing the damaging of the South London Nature Reserve and in doing so are compromising the opportunity for South London to host a premier urban nature reserve- a flagship for people and nature co-existing . 

Other campaigners are also highlighting the health risks related to mass bulk incineration and favour a decentralised approach to dealing with waste with an emphasis on recycling and reuse- which sounds sensible too.  


If you would like to join the Beddington Farmlands Nature Reserve mailing list for information on up coming walks and events, bird and wildlife news and how you can help with the reserve development than please email me: 

If you would like to support the Stop the Incinerator Campaign please see here: 

Monday 27 January 2014

Why we must protect Beddington Farmlands and Stop the South London Incinerator #3


Work is currently under way to complete a full species inventory of all biodiversity at Beddington Farmlands.
So far over 300 species of plant (not including the many fungi and lichens also present), 9 species of bats, 256 species of birds, 476 species of moth, 29 species of butterfly , 46 species of bugs, over 300 species of beetle, 358 species of flies, 99 species of bees, wasps and ants and many more grasshoppers, earwings, lacwings, caddis flies and spiders.  Despite these numbers we have only scratched the surface and many many more species await discovery.  

 A healthy population of Red Foxes are on site 
 A Common Lizard population has been recently discovered 
 A Red Underwing Moth. 476 species of moth have been recorded including possibly the only breeding population of the Dewick's Plusia. Over 60 species occurring are of national conservation concern/ interest.

 Elephant Hawk Moth- up to 12 were caught in one trap in August 2013
 Broad-bodied Chaser- one of several species of dragonfly which thrive on site 
Red Admiral- one of 25 regularly occurring butterfly species including Purple Hairstreak and Marbled White 
A hoverfly- Flies are an often un-appreciated important pollinators (much more important than bees). Over 350 species have been recorded at Beddington Farmlands including 41 species of conservation concern. One of those species, Litophasia hyalipennis was discovered which was previously considered extinct from the planet!

The South London Incinerator proposal includes the over-riding of Metropolitan Open Land (equivalent to Green Belt in an urban area) status, over-riding of SINC (Site of Importance for Nature Conservation) status and over-riding of planning condiitons to restore the proposed Incinerator site to Biodiversity Action Plan Habitat. A chilling precedent will be set which could threaten the whole protected network of conservation habitat not only locally but the whole of the UK.

Stop the South London Incinerator:

Sunday 26 January 2014

RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch Weekend

Blue Tits (anyone know what the lichens are?)

Ring-necked Parakeet eating a 'spiked' apple
Went to town on buying a range of foods- so far attracted all of the main target species being monitored in the RSPB project expect Coal Tit (a local rarity) 
Collected literally a couple of tonnes of apples from Little Oak Gardens in the autumn and been getting through them during the winter- not many thrushes about though due to mild weather so the local Blackbirds are in

 In addition to the starling murmurations that go outside the obs windows, I've also got this going on (straight out of Hitchcock's The Birds)

This weekend is the RSPB Big Garden Bird watch- would add a link to the site but it's crashed probably because so many people are trying to take part.

Saturday 25 January 2014

Why we must protect Beddington Farmlands and Stop the South London Incinerator #2


There are so many ways that people can connect to nature in a modern urban nature reserve. The WWT London Wetland Centre is not only a major educational resource, a major resource for professional and amateur naturalists and a significant employer but is also used for weddings, conferences for city businesses. by mums groups, fitness groups, by families etc etc etc. 

Public engagement at Beddington Farmlands has already started ahead of managed public access in the coming years ahead.

 Bird and Nature Watching at Beddington Farmlands 

 Aspiring young naturalists at 'the farm' 
 Employment- habitat creation in the Southern lake. Employment opportunities are significant: habitat creation, reserve maintenance, visitor facility construction and management and visitor facilities- activities, restaurant provisions,educational facilities, conference facilities etc etc etc

For health: Walking, running and cycling and connecting with open spaces and nature  

Thursday 23 January 2014

Why we must protect Beddington Farmlands and Stop the South London Incinerator #1


Beddington Farmlands is being developed into a 400 acre nature reserve within the coreland (over 1000 acres) of the wider Wandle Valley Regional Park. The Nature Reserve and the Regional Park is the single most important part of the green infrastructure within South London and has the potential to enhance the lives of millions of Londoners by providing an opportunity to connect people to nature through bird and nature watching, photography, walking, running, fitness and cycling, education, other multi-functional ways and also for employment.

The South London Nature Reserve at Beddington Farmlands can address the serious issue of 'nature deficiency disorder' (which is probably even more serious in the challenging social environments of South London) and in doing so enhancing the lives of the 1.6 million children and people of the immediate surrounding area.  Educating city folk in the importance of nature being an essential part of a healthy human environment is so important anywhere and possibly even more so in London-a city whose people and ideas influences the whole world. Beddington Farmlands is set to become one of the largest urban nature reserves of any city- a flagship to people and nature coexisting .

View looking north over Beddington Farmlands towards central London
The WWT London Wetland Centre at Barnes- Beddington Farmlands is 4 times the size of the London Wetland Centre and was the joint lead contender for the main London Wetland Centre. Barnes was chosen due to it's more central location and also because Beddington Farmlands was already being developed as a reserve as part of planning conditions by Viridor. 

Stop the Incinerator: 

Birdwatching Magazine Column

Here's a column from a recent edition of Birdwatching Magazine.

Wednesday 22 January 2014

Working in the woods

 Coppice area- volunteers have removed main stems ready for chain saw work
 Wood mouse hiding in a log pile
 Jelly Disc Ascocoryne sp. (Fungi likely ids thanks to Chris Brooks from I-spot)
 Crust- probably Hairy Curtain Crust (Stereum hirsutum)
  Porecrust Phellinus sp.
Birch Polypore Piptoporous betulinus
Working on a job at the moment at a nature reserve on Wimbledon Common doing some Hazel coppicing in an area called Bluebell Woods. Plenty of birds about including Nuthatches, Coal Tits, Goldcrests, other tits and a Grey Wagtail (in a woodland pool).

For an excellent account of what coppicing is all about see here:

Monday 20 January 2014

Garden Birds

 Juvenile/first winter Iceland Gull
 Adult Caspian Gull
2nd-winter Glaucous Gull
A pretty productive few minutes this morning looking out of the window with the Icleand Gull, an adult Caspian Gull and a 2nd-winter Glaucous Gull (found by Frankie).
Pictures are rubbish as taken at a distance of c0.5km from the bugry window. Hope they hang around for the Big Garden Bird Watch this coming weekend.

Sunday 19 January 2014

Cockneys vs Zombies

Two of our walk members today were extras in the film cockneys versus zombies.

Couldn't help thinking that would be a good name for our nature reserve campaign- a group of South Londoners against an indifferent, soul-less and greed hungry planning system.

Beddington Farmlands Nature Reserve Walk

 View over the Northern Lake
  Nature Reserve supporters discussing the local wildlife and restoration
Josh Burch and co- 2012 Veolia Environmental Wildlife Photography Competition award winner taking some photos on the reserve. Josh is hoping to make a wildlife film about Beddington Farmlands. Josh's website:
Demonstration of prevailing wind during discussion about the incinerator

Spent this morning showing a few nature reserve supporters (and anti-incinerators) round the farmlands. David Lindo, the Urban Birder was also supposed to be joining us but unfortunately got stuck on the other side of London.

Other members of the bird group reported 3 Jack Snipe, 6 Green Sandpiper, 200+ Teal and Nick saw a mystery crake- possibly  a Spotted Crake in flight by the inlet to the Southern Lake.

Saturday 18 January 2014

Stop the Incinerator/ Protect Beddington Farmlands Nature Reserve Update

Beddington Farmlands: View over the Northern Lake

Had a meeting this morning regarding progress with the judicial review regarding the Beddington Farmlands Incinerator. The review (if it goes ahead) will investigate the details of the process that has occurred leading to the planning approval. In our opinion that process has been un-balanced and even though great care has been taken by the applicant and the planning officers to ensure that all necessary boxes have been ticked, a ticked box can hide a lot of important details. A box can be ticked that the local community have been consulted but that does not necessarily mean that the applicant or the planning officers have listened to a word they said and incorporated the consultation results. In our case- it's more of the degree to how much the applicant and planning officers have incorporated the comments made by local community groups and whether they have successfully been able to un-weave the emotive and mis-guided comments from the comments that if ignored could undermine their case. In my opinion they have taken a risk which has been driven by an urgency to solve a major waste issue and a priority of certain interests over the interests of and also an underestimation of the reaction from the local society and the environment sector. I personally hope very much that this does come to judicial review and that that risk (hoping the pro-local society and environmental camp cannot defend itself)  is realised. 

I have several concerns about the unfolding events leading up to this Judicial Review particularly to the personal financial risks that certain (very brave) members of the local community are exposing themselves too and I quite sensibly am also concerned about the intentions and advice being given by the legal teams that are advising on these matters. I am particularly concerned by the involvement of the partner of the Labour party leader Ed Milliband as there is a risk here of the politicisation of the issue in which local community members get caught up in a whirlwind of concurrent agendas- there is a risk of people becoming pawns rather than players. Between me and you I also seriously doubt the sanity of a person who is the romantic partner of Ed Miliband- party politics is outside my area of expertise but to me and in layman terms, Ed comes across as a prat or at least someone who doesn't strike me as being a genuine champion for what I care about which is nature and it's significance to people and society.  Anyway despite my reservations I have never met the woman so its only fair to have my doubts but also to give the poor lady (who appears to have been unlucky in love) the benefit of those doubts . 

I was working in the week on the usual stuff I do (green space management) and came across this new development in Worcester Park (see below pics). To my mind it looked like a good example of the planning system working- looked like a good looking estate, new trees, nature reserve, good design- it looked impressive with a good balance for people and nature. So I do believe the planning system can work, it just hasn't worked round here yet. Let's hope that's where the judicial review comes in. Lets hope we can pull it off. 

Nature Reserve at the Hamptons
The Hamptons, Worcester Park- an example of an apparently well balanced development. Good design, attractive, provision for nature and profitable

Groundsel? Is it? Found this on the Mile Road Bridge this morning- already flowering. 

Tuesday 14 January 2014

Roost Flights

Ring-necked Parakeets
Did a roost count this evening from the window. 1112 Jackdaws and 634 Ring-necked Parakeets headed north to Mitcham Common where they roost. So noisy round here at dusk this time of year- there's about 10,000 gulls also going over.
Had the Iceland Gull and also an adult Caspian-type Gull.