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Conservationists have 'serious concerns' over music festival on Wanstead Flats

PUBLISHED: 10:00 08 August 2019

Wanstead Flats after a number of grassfires in 2018. Picture: Ken Mears

Wanstead Flats after a number of grassfires in 2018. Picture: Ken Mears

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A conservation group says a music festival at a wildlife haven has been given the go-ahead without a full understanding of the risk to rare species.

The Wren Conservation Group has written to the City of London Corporation to express its "serious concern" that a proposed festival on Wanstead Flats came one step closer to reality this week.

No date has yet been set for the as yet unnamed three-day festival, organised by entertainment company MAMA Festivals Ltd, which could see up to 50,000 revellers flock to the beauty spot.

Despite the City of London Corporation this week granting its approval for the event, the festival cannot go ahead unless Redbridge Council grants organisers the relevant licences later this year.

The Wren group fears for the wildlife living on Wanstead Flats.

A spokesman said: "Just a couple of years on from the worst grass fires in London's history on the same site, we find it extraordinary and worrying the City of London, the custodians of the rich but fragile habitats found locally, would conduct a vote based on such an obviously incomplete picture of the likely impact on local wildlife.

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"The remaining, and undamaged, wild areas of the Wanstead Flats are fragile and under great stress.

"Despite being the closest remaining location to central London, where skylarks breed and can be heard singing, there are only five or six pairs left breeding here."

Skylarks are a rare ground-nesting breed of bird and are just one of the many protected and declining species that call Wanstead Flats their home and the Wren Group fear these creatures could be put "in peril" by the festival.

A spokesman for City of London Corporation said: "Elected members have agreed in principle that the event can be held at the site.

"The event organisers will now need to apply to the London Borough of Redbridge for a licence to hold the event and conduct a full public consultation.

"They will also be required to mitigate against any environmental issues in order for the event to go ahead.

"Epping Forest is a registered charity and if the event were to proceed, all surplus income will be reinvested in the management of the Forest."

Following a public consultation, and consultation with local police and fire teams, on the proposals for the festival, Redbridge Council will have the final say on whether or not the festival can go ahead.

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