Please take a few mins to read this article which contains information about a wonderfully exciting proposition about a new local nature reserve in Redbridge Borough that is in the pipeline.

Why the Site is Important for Wildlife Edit

For those of you that follow the 'redbridge birdwatching' blog, or have read the yearbook, you will be aware that one of the 'top' birding sites in the borough is the GRAVEL WORKS SITE on Painters Road, Fairlop (map). I know many of you have been there. In spite of the heavy workings going on there this really is a wonderful local birding spot.

It is the home to several Brown Hare which breed on site, It has also had all of these benefits noted in the last year:

  1. Home of the winter Lapwing flock (up to 550 birds this winter, and the only flock in the borough)
  2. Home of the winter Golden Plover flock (up to 148 birds this winter, and the only flock in the borough)
  3. The Borough's largest population of wintering Snipe (usually well over 20 present, and occasional Jack Snipe)
  4. The only location in the borough where Green Sandpiper are (up to 8, usually at least 2 on site, for 10 months of the year)
  5. Good numbers of wintering wildfowl (including the only place in the borough where Shelduck are regular)
  6. Good for raptors, with Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Little Owl and Hobby all regular, and Marsh Harrier, Merlin, Peregrine, Barn Owl and Buzzard all seen in the past 12 months)
  7. The only major site in the borough for migrating waders (last season we saw Whimbrel, Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Ringed Plover, several Greenshank, 7 Redshank, many Common Sandpiper, Oystercatcher, Dunlin and many more Green Sandpiper passing through)
  8. The only place in the borough where waders breed: last year 2 pairs of Little Ringed Plover and 3 pairs of Lapwing
  9. One of 2 major sites in the borough for migrating passerines (the other being Wanstead Flats). During 2009 up to 50 Wheatear, 50 Whinchat, 50 Yellow Wagtail, several White Wagtail, 2 Rock Pipit, Water Pipit and (not a passerine, but) Spotted Crake.
  10. The only place in the borough where Sedge Warbler breed, and 1 of only 2 or 3 sites where Reed Warbler breed.

I could go on and on, and mention the wintering Stonechat, wintering Woodcock and Water Rail and a lot more but you get the picture... Also, due to the limited accessibility of this site at the moment (evenings and weekends only), most of the birds present are probably missed!

(If anybody would like to be escorted round the site, please contact me on 07862 140777, or email me at

The Proposals Edit

The reason for writing all this is that the Gravel Extraction in the current site is coming to an end. (They will be moving to a new site by St Peters Church, Aldbrough Hatch.) And part of the original agreement was that this area would be designated as a Nature Reserve upon completion of the infilling of the site (Area D). The company that extracts the gravel - LAFARGE - are struggling to find enough landfill, and it is our belief that we should encourage Lafarge and the council to cease infilling as the birds listed above (as well as other wildlife forms), have found there home there in its existing wetland habitat state.

the plans should include:

  1. Small Car Park
  2. Bird Hides, walkway and panels to 'hide' behind
  3. Planting a good sized Reedbed (to attract more Water Rail, wintering Bittern, Bearded Tit, Cetti's Warbler and to increase the breeding success in the borough of Reed Warblers, Sedge Warblers and Reed Buntings that are all only present in single figures)
  4. To create a wetland habitat based on the existing layout of the works, that will benefit wildfowl and wading birds.
  5. To improve Seven Kings Water (that runs along the site), to include nesting areas for kingfisher.
  6. To create a nesting site for Sand Martin (that often prospect, but do not nest anywhere in the borough at present)
  7. To plant more wet woodland adjacent to Hargreaves Wet Woodland to increase the excellent habitat there
  8. To protect the habitat that the Hares favour, and the wet meadow which is excellent on site.
  9. To re-introduce Grey Partridge, and encourage Yellowhammer and Tree Sparrow, Corn Bunting to return

Potentially this site could become as important as Barnes or Rainham, if managed properly, and the conservation team are really behind the project.

The true value of the potential is unknown... perhaps we will soo have a heronry back in the borough here in the wet woodland, perhaps Common Tern will breed, perhaps the newly expected arrivals over the next 20 years will take up residence here (Spoonbill, Cattle Egret, Great White Egret, etc...)

What You Can Do Edit

Readers...We need your help.... Although in principle it is agreed that this land will be made a nature reserve, it is still the intention of the council to fill in the gravel pits, and Lafarge are contracturally bound to keep doing this and return as much of it as possible to a field. This will bring them a revenue of £2.4Million, but will reap a huge travesty as the potential will be lost, and the existing impressive birdlife will have left. We need to persuade the councillors that this is worth it, that would be used by birders, and that is vital for the wildlife. This infil is already happening, and tonnes are being dumped here each day...

Please take time to email a letter to the following person. (Whether you are resident in the borough or not).

Stuart Anderson (of Lafarge)

and CC in Cllr Sladden Cllr V Cole and Cllr Nolan, Cllr Sladden and Cllr V Cole are Aldborough Ward Councillors, Cllr V Cole serves on the gravel working group. Cllr Nolan is the Cabinet member with the Resources Portfolio. And please CC (incharge of land management), from Londond Wildlife Trust, the bio-diversity officer who is making this proposal and myself

The letter can be short, and can include ALL or ANY of the information provided above. (Particularly those that indicate that this site is vital, and losing it could mean losing species in the borough)

Your own words would be better, but if you do not know what to write, please copy and paste the below.

Dear Stuart Anderson

'I understand that the section of the Fairlop gravel workings south of Painters Road (I think it's known as Area D) is to be infilled. As a local Redbridge resident and naturalist, I am concerned that this infilling operation will be to the serious detriment of the area's wildlife. No doubt you are aware of the rich habitats in the area, which provide winter feeding, summer nesting sites, and roosting and feeding opportunities in spring and autumn for many gulls, wildfowl, wading birds and small birds (especially ground-feeding birds). Some of the relevant species are locally or nationally rare. Many of the species present, are not found anywhere else in the borough, and infilling this site would reap a huge loss to the diversity of species found on Fairlop Plain and in Redbridge borough as a whole. ' 'I also understand that part of the agreement is that the land be restored to a nature reserve, but the site's vital value for wildlife is in the wetland habitat created by the gravel extraction. Infilling of the workings would destroy this very habitat. I understand that your company is in talks with Redbridge council officers, and I would strongly urge you to reconsider the terms of the contract (which actually goes against the spirit in which I believe it was drawn up) and amend the application for restoration so as to leave as much of the wetland habitat as possible.' '' 'Please amend if there are parts that do not apply to you (location etc)... and please pass it on to anybody that you think would be prepared to assist in this cause' Reader, please make sure that you email this to Stuart, and CC in all the 7 email addresses above. And please do this as soon as possible as the wheels are already in motion, and we really do not want flats on this site.. There is a meeting between the councils bio-diversity officer and lafarge next week, so the more letters the better before then.

Thanks very much - please email or call me (07862 140777) if you have any further questions

This request is brought to you via me, from Chris Gannaway (London Wildlife Trust)


Daniel Erickson-Hull, Redbridge Birdwatching

Daniel Erickson-Hull, Redbridge Birdwatching blog@

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