The year was dominated by the fall out from the construction of the controversial incinerator and that's before the chimneys have even started emitting dioxins and fine particulates into the local air. Beddington Farmlands was seldom not in the local and wider media in 2017 and featured strongly as a local issue in the June local elections. The campaign gathered pace as the year progressed ahead of a major push planned for the May local councillor elections in 2018, with the petition to enforce conditions and deliver the promised nature reserve having gathered over 3500 supporters by the end of the year. PETITION HERE
Here's a brief summary of the year in pictures and captions:
The construction of the 300,000 tonne incinerator within the Beddington Farmlands Site of Importance for Nature Conservation and Green Belt set the back drop for 2017.
This Black Swan was present in the early part of the year. A naturalised species in some parts of Europe.
White-winged gulls featured through the winter. Juvenile/first-winter Glaucous Gull (above) and Iceland Gull (below).
A great winter for Caspian Gulls.
Habitat management winter works included clearing areas of the islands for nesting waterfowl
This flock of migrating Barnacle Geese was an unprecedented sight
Spring passage included a few scarce migrants including this Marsh Harrier
Oak Beautys appeared at the obs moth trap in early spring
This Black Redstart in the obs garden was one of the spring highlights
Wader passage included these summer plumages Dunlins (above) and Wood Sandpiper (below)
SUMMER 2017 and the June local elections
The Beddington Farmlands incinerator was one of the local issues featured in the local political campaigns. This flyer was from a local satirical political group known as the People's Front of Hackbridge. Concerns about Beddington Farmlands were also voiced at the Mayor of London's People's Question Time. During the elections local political party leaders made pledges for Beddington Farmlands SEE HERE
The political bomb shell in the summer was the rejection of the Hackbridge and Beddington Corner Neighbourhood Development Group's funding application's to the Viridor Community Fund. The Community Fund was part of the section 106 agreement of the incinerator to provide funding to local community groups. The work of the Development Group have included stakeholder input into the Heart of hackbridge re-development including the creation of the new entrance for Beddington Farmlands (above) and a key part of their work is developing Hackbridge as a hub to Beddington Farmlands and the wider Wandle Valley Regional Park. Persecution by Viridor has now increased anxiety about the increasingly sinister Viridor agenda considering the Hackbridge and Beddington Corner is the statutory representative group of the local community and in theory should be the primary beneficiaries of section 106 funds.
The 2015 bird report was reviewed in Birdwatch and Birdguides and highlighted the continual decline in wildlife on the site
Former RSPB director and UK leading conservationist Mark Avery visited Beddington farmlands during the year and has pledged to lend further support to the campaign
However the big news in the summer was the first breeding of Gadwall on site and....
the appearance of a Red-veined Darter in July
Summer moth trapping included many highlights including this Sallow Kitten
Upto 9 Hedgehogs were counted on summer evening walks
This fine adult Sabine's Gull was a highlight of the autumn
This Cattle Egret was the highlight of the autumn- a first for the site
Other interesting scarce migrants included Black-tailed Godwit
On the insect front the big autumn news was the appearance of several Willow Emerald Damselflies
Autumn waders included this confiding Ruff
Autumn mothing highlights included this Scarce Bordered Straw (above) and an influx of Vestal (below) in October
WINTER (again) 2017
Caspian Gulls started making an appearance in late October and November
The Twite found in November was another highlight of the year- a ringed bird from the South Pennine ringing project and the first at the farmlands for 13 years.
THE YEAR AHEAD
The Battle for Beddington Farmlands has raged throughout 2017 but despite this the site is still one of the most important areas in Greater London for wildlife- ranked in the top sites for birds alongside Rainham Marshes and the London Wetland Center. However 2017 has also been a year of great losses of habitat. The incinerator is being built on land that was designated for wet grassland habitat and the new school development started on the semi-natural grassland in Hackbridge. More bad news came in November when the planning inspector announced de-designation of a further 10 acres of nature reserve to industry. At a rate of e.g. 20 acres a year- the entire site will be completely developed in 20 years.
However there is a more imminent threat faced in 2018 which involves the decommissioning of over 200 acres of land from wetland habitat to dry habitat (as a consequence of the cessation of sludge disposal). This will almost certainly mean the loss of Lapwings on site if action is not taken.
Time is running out and 2018 is the eleventh hour for Beddington Farmlands so please sign the petition to the head of Sutton Council to enforce conditions on Virdior and preserve the wildlife and deliver the Beddington Farmlands Nature Reserve. PETITION HERE
The Incinerator in October 2017 under the apocalyptic like skies of ex-Hurricane Ophela
The new school development with the incinerator in the background
Wetland habitat which has been de-designation from nature reserve to industry land
Typical breeding habitat for Lapwing which is being de-commissioned
The last two Tree Sparrows with a Carrion Crow looking on ominously . The population has crashed from a peak of nearly 1000 birds in 2007 to these last two birds this winter. The delay in restoration and lack of implementation of the London Tree Sparrow Project recommendations are most likely linked to the species collapse. If breeding habitat on 100 acre and Southeast Corner are lost this coming year - the Lapwings (one of the last remaining target species) will be lost too.
Will the Beddington Lapwings survive 2018?
PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION