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We Need Your Help To Save Our Green Space!

Enfield Council wants to build a crematorium in the heart of Firs Farm’s Greenspace. We cannot let this happen; this article will outline the proposal and why the Friends of Firs Farm are objecting to the plans.

                   

We need your help to object to this plan.  You can do this by registering your objections directly be emailing : localplan@enfield.gov.uk before the 13th of September.

Call to action!

The Friends will be back again on Saturday the 11th of September from 10am to 2pm collecting signatures and sharing information  We will be  by the Wetlands       Firs Lane, N21 if you want to know more.

Please help us to protect our beautiful space that is under threat from an ill-conceived and destructive plan.

A brief history of Firs Farm:

The Friends of Firs Farm (est. 2014) have together in collaboration with Enfield Council, Thames Water and Thames 21 achieved many changes in Firs Farm since 2014.

From an underused muddy field, now sits a fantastic, sustainable wetlands system, complete with an outdoor classroom, windows to the wetlands and a watercourse. Complimented by a pond with a pond dipping platform and an array of wonderful wildlife that have chosen to reside in the wonderful Firs Farm green space. Firs Farm has retained its football pitches and now boasts table tennis and tennis courts, keeping its sporting legacy alive. This transformation is owing to the creation of the Sustainable Urban Drainage System at Firs Farm, that was created by ‘daylighting’ the Moore Brook, and bringing it back above ground – from where it was previously culverted. This re-naturalised and regenerated green space continues to be developed and maintained by the community in partnership with the council, to ensure that it is fit for all users.

Accessible paths that span the length and breadth of Firs Farm and accessible benches offer somewhere to sit and contemplate the fabulous views.  Firs Farm has become the ‘Go To’ place that ‘Brings our Community Together’.   (Visit Firs Farm here)

The proposal:

Enfield Council are proposing in their Local Plan to put a crematorium in the heart of our green space within the next 5-10 years,  showing the boundary of the proposed crematorium and the impact on habitats. Whilst Firs Farm has been identified as a potential site for the crematorium (amongst others), we must take action now, to show why Firs Farm, as an award winning and loved community green space, is NOT suitable for this development. “Enfield has the highest burial requirements in London and is facing a shortage of burial space” hence the reason for the proposal, however, whilst we need more burial grounds. We CANNOT sacrifice our community green space as an expense.

Objections: 

There are many reasons why we are objecting these plans and key objections are detailed below.

Physical site unsuitability- according to Enfield Council’s own guidance: According the Enfield Plan, a site at risk of flooding, air pollution and groundwater contamination, would be unsuitable. Why has it been identified that Firs Farm is suitable, when the wetlands were created specifically to protect against localized flooding (something only predicted to increase with climate change)? Why has this plan been proposed on a site that runs parallel to the A10 – a major source of air pollution, which would be further compounded by crematorium emissions; is it suitable in a residential area that borders a secondary school and is used for sports and recreation? Why has this site been identified when there is a risk of groundwater contamination to the watercourse, especially when the site has not been properly maintained by contractors, to prevent and combat existing pollution incidents? Why, why, why…Such questions need to be answered because from the little information so far provided, it seems to be very clear that the site is UNSUITABLE, according to their own guidance? Beyond highlighting the contradictions in the plan, we have further key objections, which are explored below.

Habitat degradation and destruction: the selected location (and boundary) for the crematorium will result in the degradation and potential destruction of key habitats at Firs Farm. Please see our map and key of the habitats that will be impacted on in the map below; it should be noted that the ancient hedgerows are designated as a site of interest in nature conservation (SINC) due to the presence of ecologically important plant species. Recently, it has also been confirmed that Water Voles have made Firs Farm their home – you can find our article on Water Voles on our Facebook Page – and this is fantastic news as it evidences how habitat naturalization and restoration bring keystone species back into the ecosystem. It is worth considering that Water Voles are fully protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, against intentional killing, capture or injury and intentional or reckless disturbance, obstruction, damage or destruction of their burrows; the development of a crematorium, metres from the watercourse will no doubt disturb our new residents.

Further contradictions in Enfield Council’s approach are reflected in Enfield’s Blue and Green Strategy that was set out by Enfield Council to improve the quality and connectedness of blue (aquatic habitats) and green (terrestrial) spaces in Enfield. “Over half of the borough is classified as blue or green spaces, making us (Enfield), one of London’s most treasured environments”, “Our parks, trees, open spaces, routes and watercourses represent some of our best and most valued assets”. Considering the apparent commitment to improving our green and blue spaces across the borough, why are they proposing this development in the heart of our diverse and thriving green space, that would be doing the exact opposite of what they claim to be working towards in the Blue and Green Plan?

Development and lack of pre-consultation: the Friends of Firs Farm have worked tirelessly to develop the site for the benefit of the community – and are always working to further improve the site. We are in need of an indoor accessible community space, which would allow us to take full advantage of the site year round and have an even greater positive impact upon local community and individual wellbeing – physical and mental. These plans are yet to come to fruition, despite our continued and best efforts to work with the council – they are instead prioritizing a project that would degrade the site and be of detriment to the community’s wellbeing, over one that would benefit it. Surely, the answer to needing more burial grounds in the borough, is choosing a site where there is no significant conflicts of interest – particularly as they claim they are working towards improving the borough’s greens spaces (Blue Green Plan) for the communities that need them. The Friends have worked with dedication with our partners (see above – a brief history of Firs Farm) and so a lack of pre-consultation about such proposals was unexpected and as a consequence this has put considerable pressure on the volunteer managed charity to respond in adequate timing to such plans.

We can only hope by rallying the community together to create a strong, ‘Save Our Greenspace Campaign’, for Enfield Council to recognize that our site is not suitable for the proposed development of a crematorium, now or ever and the only developments occurring should be to the benefit of the wildlife and community.

Finally if you love Firs Farm as we do, please send us pictures/ stories/ photos of your time there, as part of our campaign to Save Our Green Space  Please add your contribution to our facebookpage or email us at  friendsoffirsfarm@gmail.com

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