Council rejects ‘golf for bees’12th August, 2013 by Alistair Dunsmuir
A London local authority has rejected calls from local residents to build an organic golf course to attract bees – and has granted planning permission for a campsite to be built instead.
Lee Valley Regional Park Authority (LVRPA) had faced calls from the Save Lea Marshes (SLM) action group of local residents, and a number of environmental organisations, to turn WaterWorks Golf Centre – a disused pitch and putt golf course in Leyton – into a nine-hole ‘chemical free’ golf course to attract pollinating insects such as bees.
Instead, the 22-acre London venue will be used to attract campers visiting the Olympic Park, which is three miles away.
Caroline Day of SLM said: “In setting up a nine-hole affordable golf course the LVRPA had the opportunity to protect the openness of the land, offer local people affordable sporting activity and make use of the land without harming its importance for plant species and as a wildlife corridor along the River Lea.
“We need to encourage bee-friendly flowers and this can easily be done as part of a successful organic golf course.”
SLM had been supported by environmental groups the Pesticides Action Network (PAN), River of Flowers, Waltham Forest Friends of the Earth and Project Maya.
Nick Mole from PAN said: “Here was a great opportunity for the LVRPA to adopt a really forward thinking plan that would have established habitat for bees and other pollinator species that are facing sharp declines throughout the UK.
“By creating an organic golf course the LVRPA would have been able to claim with justification that it takes London’s wild spaces and biodiversity protection seriously.”
However, the local authority opted to convert the venue into a £25-per-tent campsite instead, which can accommodate dozens of tents and up to 200 people per night. Some locals have said that this will attract anti-social behaviour, especially drunkenness.
Julian Cheyne of the pressure group, Olympic Games Monitor, commented: “To cover their costs they are going to have a lot of people staying there, while we are losing a perfectly good facility which could be improved.
“They could build a nine-hole organic golf course there and improve the nature reserve.
“We think it is a crackpot scheme.”
LVPRA has hit back at the criticism. A spokeswoman said: “We have a clear noise curfew for all our customers who stay, and this is clearly stated in advance at the time of booking.”