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Community view: Music festivals not welcome on Flats

PUBLISHED: 08:00 20 October 2018

Elwin Cockett

One of the great things about east London is its open spaces.

We have great shops, busy streets and any number of places of entertainment, but we also have some lovely open spaces. Stratford and the Olympic Park are great but it is wonderful Wanstead Flats that has long represented the start of Epping Forest for many.

There is a long tradition of holding fairs and firework shows on Wanstead Flats on the west side between Centre Road and Dames Road. But to the east, between the football changing-rooms and the City of London cemetery, lies a fabulous sanctuary of flora and fauna. Here, rare skylarks breed in the grassland, migrating birds flock to the lake, and an early morning walk can be as peaceful and tranquil as in the depths of the countryside. It’s a blessing.

If proposals before the Corporation of the City of London go ahead that will be shattered next summer as 30,000 people a day attend music festivals. Plans include a mainstage, extensive fenced-off areas, sound systems, food outlets more usually associated with the likes of the Glastonbury Festival.

Quite apart from the nuisance to local residents, with clogged roads, the potential for damage to the wildlife is devastating.

We had a warning with the grass fires this summer. The London Fire Brigade had to deploy more than 200 firefighters for four days to save Wanstead Flats from a disaster. The risks are very real of far greater permanent damage to the precious and fragile eco system of the grasslands around Alexandra Lake.

There are suitable venues including the Olympic Park, but Wanstead Park is not one. Let’s pray that the City of London listens to us and changes its mind.

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