Campaigners fight to return part of Leyton Marshes to their natural state

Environmental campaigners have raised thousands in their efforts to prevent part of the Leyton Marshes being used for large-scale events.

Save Lea Marshes plans to commission ecological surveys of the Waterworks Field to support their case for restoring the former golf course to its natural, uncultivated state.

The Lea Valley Regional Park Authority (LVRPA), which manages the land, believes it can run events on the field “without having a negative effect on it or surrounding areas”.

On May 18, Waltham Forest Council refused to give promoters permission to hold an electronic music festival on the site after receiving more than 350 objections.

On the campaign’s GoFundMe page, Caroline Day explained that the group fears an interest in “maximising revenue streams” will encourage the park authority to “use the meadow as an event site or sell it off for private development”.

The group alleges it was “denied access to LVRPA’s ecological data”, which the authority contests, and that “much of the data that does exist is outdated or limited in scope”.

A park authority spokesperson said they hoped to work with the group on surveys, as “it would be a waste for them to spend money doing something [the authority] have already done”.

They said: “There’s always a balance to be struck with different ideas on how to use our open spaces, especially ones like this where there’s a lot of public interest. 

“We believe that part of the field at the WaterWorks Centre on Lammas Road in Leyton, which used to be a golf course, is an excellent events space and that, at the same time, we can improve the biodiversity value of the wider site.

“External interest in the WaterWorks Field as a venue for cultural activity, events and community usage is high, and we think that it could become a popular space for schools, community groups, faith groups and others, along with hosting occasional large scale events. 

“We see all of these activities as engagement tools for getting new and diverse communities into the park.

“We understand how much visitors value this space and have no plans to sell or dispose of this green space.”

They added that the authority’s survey data is “available for anyone to see through Green Space Information for Greater London or from us directly”.

The authority and Save Lea Marshes are due to meet to discuss the future of the site on Friday (July 10).

The GoFundMe can be viewed here

Mick Ferris

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