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Firs Farm Park opens new wetlands and cycleway

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10 March 2016

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This week saw the opening of the new £900,000 wetlands/flood alleviation scheme and cycleway in Firs Farm Park in Winchmore Hill.

This week saw the opening of the new £900,000 wetlands/flood alleviation scheme and cycleway in Firs Farm Park in Winchmore Hill.

Opened by Enfield Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Cllr Daniel Anderson, the Deputy Mayor of London for Environment and Energy, Matthew Pencharz, and Toni Guiver, Chair of the Friends of Firs Farm, the project aims to tackle pollution, prevent flooding, bring wildlife into the park and make it easier for visitors to access the area.

The project saw whole parts of the park landscaped to create not only a wetlands area to prevent pollution, but a woodland watercourse and walk, plus educational features will be completed shortly, such as an outdoor classroom and ‘dipping platform’ for schools. The scheme saw over 100 trees planted and the creation of a wildflower meadow.

Although the wetlands are fully open, some works are still under construction forming part of the Enfield 2020 sustainability programme by encouraging wildlife, improving the local environment, and encouraging residents and visitors to make the most of Enfield’s green spaces.

The new 600m cycleway, which will link the east and west points of the park, will provide access for all sections of the community such as cyclists and pedestrians, particularly those with buggies and the disabled. It will be an attractive route for local children to get to and from school, and also help people travel to and from their places of work.

Funding for the scheme came from the Mayor of London’s Big Green Fund, Thames Water, Defra, Enfield Council and the Environment Agency. It was also supported by tireless campaigning from the Friends of Firs Farm Park who not only campaigned to get local people involved in the project but helped with planting, creating footpaths, and organising community events.

Cllr Anderson said, “I was delighted to be asked to open this new wetlands and cycleway and to see how the entire park has been transformed. From just a bare piece of land to over two hectares of improved space; this park is now not only a welcoming retreat for native wildlife, but also for local people.

“Connectivity is a huge part of the Council’s Cycle Enfield scheme and not only will this project open up a pleasant and quiet corner of the borough that provides great pedestrian and cycleway routes, this link will also give residents even more ways to travel in and out of Enfield.”

Matthew Pencharz said “The Mayor’s funding is helping transform Firs Farm into a beautiful new accessible wetland for all the community to enjoy. The green infrastructure improvements will help reduce flood risk for a 100 local homes which is all part of the Mayor’s wider work on sustainable drainage, modernising the way we manage rainwater in the capital.”

Toni Guiver said “The success of the wetlands is a perfect example of how a local community can work together with their local council to achieve something amazing.

“Aside from enhancing and utilising a redundant piece of land for the benefit of the local community and wildlife, it addresses a very real issue – flood relief. Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS) mimic nature and typically manage rainfall by slowing water down before it enters streams, rivers and other water courses and providing a natural storage facility.

“We would also like to take this opportunity to thank Enfield Council, Thames 21, Thames Water, The Environment Agency, Defra and Mayor of London’s Big Green Fund. We look forward to further collaboration in the future to ensure the success and long term future of Firs Farm Park.”

Thames Water’s programme manager Cathy Purse said: “Encouraging people to enjoy the great outdoors and protecting the environment are really important to us so we’re pleased to have been able to support this successful project. It’s good to know that with our help members of the community will be able to enjoy this spectacular space for generations to come.”

John Bryden, Senior Programme Manager from Thames21, said: “Two great features of this wetland is that it will improve rivers in the downstream Lea Valley as the area will process pollutants which usually flow off roads into our river networks, and also its ability to unite people with nature.

“Getting the community interested in their local rivers is crucial to creating a sustainable future for our waterways and that’s why it’s been so encouraging to see the Friends of Firs Farm and other members of the community help to deliver this project. Firs Farm now provides a space where people can more thoroughly enjoy the outdoors.”