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Green Defenders launched – find out how to join here

By deliar
25th April 2024

Mobilising supporters can help protect cherished community sites

Community activists across London have joined CPRE London’s new Green Defenders network to share best practice and gain encouragement from success stories.

At its inaugural meeting in April, campaigners heard from Katie Boyles, organiser of the successful campaign to protect a threatened 25-ha site in west London.

Ealing Council had originally announced plans to turn the unofficial Warren Farm nature reserve in Norwood Green into eight football pitches.

Ms Boyles said the threat to the reserve had come as a shock to the community.

‘If Warren Farm was turned into a football ground, we would have lost all public access, so we were determined to act. At the start, we had no master plan – we were new to all this.’

Researching wildlife

Ms Boyle said there had been seven key steps to the campaign’s success, starting with learning more about the richness of the site’s wildlife.

‘We knew there were skylarks, but we discovered so many other species we didn’t know about, from rare wild flowers, to unusual spiders.’

Once they had researched the details, campaigners shared information more widely, using a website and social media. They formed a campaign team with key skills. They ran events, including nature walks, and engaged with local and regional press.

It was also important to work constructively with politicians, on a local and London-wide level.

Ms Boyles paid tribute to CPRE London and the networks of friends groups which had helped shape the campaign.

In March, Ealing Council reversed its plans to develop the site, agreeing that it would be ‘rewilded’. The sports pitches will be built on land adjacent to the site.

CPRE London Campaigns Manager Alice Roberts said the story illustrated the dangers of land being left unused for a long time. It also showed the impact of a strong local campaign.

‘A site without a clear identity becomes the target for developers. If you can mobilise supporters and create a vision for the site, it’s far more likely you’ll succeed in protecting it.’

CPRE London works to protect London’s green spaces. The Green Defenders network meets online every two months, and welcomes new members. To find out more see Green Defenders – protecting London’s environment – CPRE London

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