Bianca Jagger stands up for environment activists in council row over felled trees

Bianca Jagger has weighed in on an ongoing row between Lewisham Council and residents over the regeneration of a park which has allegedly seen hundreds of trees torn down.

The social and human rights activist responded to tweets made by angry residents who were shocked by the removal of the trees in Beckenham Place Park in Lewisham to make way for an “ornamental lake”.

Lewisham council said the ongoing works had been carefully planned and ecology experts confirmed the scheme would increase and enhance habitat value in the park. 

Ms Jagger described the actions of the council as “a crime against nature”.

She wrote on Twitter: Unspeakable #CrimeAgainstNature – Dear members of the @LewishamCouncil please stop the desecration of beautiful, rare and mature #trees in the #BeckenhamPlacePark you are causing irreparable damage to biodiversity #SaveBeckenhamParkTrees”.

In 2016, Lewisham Council was awarded £4.9 million in funding by the Heritage Lottery fund to redevelop the park after a survey determined that the park was “under used”.

Following the closure of a golf course in 2011, which took up two-thirds of the park, the council planned to restore the park’s natural heritage features and enhance its facilities including reintroducing a man-made lake.

The council have chopped down trees to make way for the park renovations (Michael Keane)

But the new developments allegedly involved the removal of over 400 hundred trees which led some residents to question whether the work would be damaging to the environment.

Campaigners in the local area say they have been left upset by the sight of trees being cut down in the park as the redevelopment takes place.

Elaine Storey, Chair of the Friends of Beckenham Place Park said that people who are regular users of the park were upset with how the council have gone about the park alterations.

Campaigners are worried that the redevelopment of the park will harm wildlife (Elaine Storey)

She said: “I have been surprised by the emotion in the park, people see the trees being cut down and they are worried about the wildlife”

“They (the council) have gone about this the wrong way,” she said.

Jenny Kay, a member of the campaign group Save Beckenham Park Golf Course, said that “In the process of developing the park they are destroying lots of natural habitat”.

Ms Storey said one local had told her that a badger set had been displaced during the redevelopment.

A fellow environmentalist campaigner called Michael Keane said that he did not think that the council had thought through their plans when it came to the environmental impact.

He said he thought the project was “well intentioned” but that it would not be possible to replace the damage caused by getting rid of such a vast amount of trees.

He anticipated that 3-4 hectares of tree canopy (roughly the size of a football pitch) would be lost to make way for the lake.

Ms Storey said that the council had planted 12,000 whips – tree saplings- to replace those that were being removed but she said she did not think that it would be enough.

“Generally 40 per cent of the whips won’t live past two years and it will take 40 years for the majority of them to mature,” she said.

Ms Jagger had previously posted about the park’s redevelopment on Monday denouncing the work in more general terms.

She wrote: “Very sad to learn about more #CrimesAgainstNature about the desecration of #trees by @LewishamCouncil in #BeckenhamPlacePark for a vanity project founded by @HLFLondon! Bluebells woods damage, high bat roost trees destroyed against legal protocols and naturals habitats destroyed”.

In response to the comment, a Lewisham Council spokesman wrote: “Thanks to @hlflondon we will now be able to transform this previously underused park that was dominated by the now closed golf course into one that offers more opportunities for leisure and recreation for a wider range of park users and visitors.”

A spokeswoman for the council told the Standard: “As part of the multi-million pound regeneration of Beckenham Place Park we are increasing the amount of woodland and improving the ecology of this historic park. The restoration of the lake forms part of the heritage landscape that we are re-establishing and it will, just like the woodland, create valuable habitats for the wildlife.

“All the ongoing works in Beckenham Place Park have been carefully planned and ecology experts have confirmed that our scheme will increase and enhance habitat value in the park.”

The council said it had invited Ms Jagger to get in contact with them with her concerns, however the spokeswoman told the Standard that she has not yet done so.

The Standard had reached out to Bianca Jagger for further comment.

Source :