Harrow Nature Conservation Forum

August 2005

Chairmanís Report: 07.07.05

Resisting the predatory activities of developers and the Deputy Prime Minister seems to have taken up a great deal of time and energy this year. Now that the former BAe site on Stanmore Common has been given the green light for housing by the ODPM, strenuous effort will be needed to ensure that the stringent conditions annexed to the permission will be adhered to.

It has to be re-stated that the use of this site for housing is wrong, and flies in the face of the government's own policies on CO2 emissions and global warming. While Tony Blair pushes the G8 meeting one way, John Prescott drives the other. The plain fact is that we have failed to produce sufficiently convincing arguments to persuade the planners that the impact of housing on this site will be greater than that from an institutional or other 'appropriate' use within the meaning of the Act.

Of course, when construction is completed and first occupied, it will all look and feel very nice. But wait a decade or two and see the detritus and damage spread outwards into what is now a conservation site of SSSI value, if not status, and observe that value fall. The much vaunted Biodiversity Action Plan, will have potential failure already built-in, and the Council will have a continual fight on its hands just to keep the Common tidy.

We are still waiting to see the result of the consultation report from Land Use Consultants on the Green Belt Management Strategy. Rumour has it that the Council has sent back the first draft to be, 'watered down'??? We await publication with considerable interest. According to a letter from Anna Robinson, Director of Strategy, the document will be presented to Cabinet on 28th July 2005 , following which the approved 'document will undergo a comprehensive consultation exercise with Harrow Nature Conservation Forum, residents, stakeholders and interested groups, before the strategy is finalised'

We have had some contact with Harrow Agenda 21. CPRE's London Chairman, Harley Sherlock's dreary talk, 'Cities are Good for Us' on 22Dd June, gave us the opportunity to complain at the lack of support we had from both of these organisations at the BAe public inquiry recently. It seems we live in a world where everyone canvasses for support but, because of weak resources, fails to reciprocate, when needed. We, I suggest, are no different.

As the current programme of workdays and event shows, there is still plenty of site activity to be enjoyed. There are some minor concerns about lack of continuity due to the massive reorganisation of Harrow's Open Space administration. At the field level new liaisons will have to be built.


Site reports


The spring walk produced a surprise participant. A light Orange Underwing moth hitched a ride on Betty Brown. This is one of London's rare moths and must have come from the nearby Aspen grove.

We had two events on National Moth Day (July 9th). About ten people turned up for the morning walk including a Dad and his son. This youngster was very adept with his net and the fIrst butterfly he captured was a Purple Hairstreak , which is normally only seen high up in oak trees. Next was the fIrst of two Marbled Whites. This butterfly is occasionally seen in the Country Park but never two before.

There were only three of us gathered around a mercury vapour bulb in the evening but almost forty species of moth were identified including several micro moths new to the Park.

We have been continuing with the bracken pulling this summer and hopefully in the next year or two this will greatly reduce the quantity of stems emerging each year.

There are three BTCV days planned for winter and I will be continuing with the expansion of the grass area in John Hall's field (ant city).

BENTLEY OLD VICARAGE report by Steve Bolsover

Bentley Old Vicarage, a small site north of All Saints Church on the Uxbridge Road in Harrow Weald, does not need large scale work. Our monthly working parties are concerned with small scale maintenance duties such as keeping the paths clear of ivy and cutting the grass in the two meadows.

This does not mean that we would not appreciate help, especially from people who could regularly give a few hours of their time, either at the committee meetings (once every two months) or at the monthly working parties.

Our annual Open Day, when we welcome visitors and give guided tours of the site, fell on June 19th this year. We were honoured with a visit from the Mayor of Harrow.

The main summer job has been cutting grass in the meadows. We do this in installments over three monthly working parties, not only to spread the workload but also to allow the plants to set seed and to allow insects and spiders to relocate from cut to growing areas. At the present time, two thirds is done.

ROXBOURNE ROUGH Report by Dave Bolton

Dave Bolton reports that during the summer he has completed the spreading of gravel on the path that encircles the site. Summer activities have also included cutting the grass on the edges of the path and litter-picking.

Paul Jeffrey has continued to monitor butterflies on the Rough this year. He reports that numbers of Gatekeepers have increased but Meadow Browns have shown a decline. He has also seen a Marbled White; more evidence of the spread of this butterfly into the London area.


Simon has reported that the orchid area is now severely overgrown and will need a major cut and clearance. The number of 'cuts' will have to be increased to boost the flora, but should ideally be 'invertebrate sensitive. This means not cutting the whole area at one time and also cutting vegetation at different heights. Simon counted 271 orchid plants this year; down on last year's total of 313.

Lack of volunteers, including wardens is disturbing and the recruitment of ITesh faces needs to be undertaken more aggressively. The numbers turning up for walks is also declining.

Harrow's Green Belt Management Strategy

Copies of this report can be obtained by ringing Trina Taylor on 020-8863-5611. If you haven't done so please read this report and return the consultation form to Harrow Council by September 30th

Thanks to Yu Xuan for the photograph of the saw

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Contact details

Information on specific sites, walks and workdays is available from the individual wardens.

Site maintained by Steve Bolsover s.bolsover@ucl.ac.uk