Barnet Post

Barnet Post

Future of Welsh Harp Reservoir hangs in the balance

Residents urged to have their say on maintenance of Welsh Harp Reservoir

Hero for Future of Welsh Harp Reservoir hangs in the balance
By Bella Saltiel 12 October 2021

Residents hoping to see the “dirty, litter-filled and polluted” Welsh Harp Reservoir cleaned up have just over a week to have their say.

The reservoir, which straddles the border of Barnet and Brent and is managed by the Canal & River Trust (CRT), is an important breeding site for waterbirds, including the rare great crested grebe.

However, earlier this year Barnet councillor Anne Clark told the Post that “successive failures” have allowed the green space to become a “disgrace” choked with litter, which could affect local wildlife. 

Now the Welsh Harp Strategy Group - made up of Barnet Council, the CRT and other authorities - is looking to find out “what local people would like to see the Welsh Harp become” by 22nd October.

CRT’s London director Ros Daniels said the trust is “grateful to those in the community who stepped forward to help start the process of making improvements”.

He added: “I’d urge those who know and love the site to take part in the consultation process and help secure a future for a reservoir people can enjoy for years to come.”

One member of the community who has campaigned about the state of the reservoir is Ben Watt, one half of pop duo Everything But The Girl, who posted photos of rubbish in the reservoir on his blog.

In January, water levels were lowered for maintenance work, revealing a swamp of supermarket trolleys, traffic cones and plastics, discarded and left to block the waterways, which he labelled an "environmental crisis".

In June, Cllr Clarke said: “The state of the Welsh Harp is a disgrace, and it has been allowed to become dirty, litter filled and polluted by successive failures. Barnet Council’s Conservative administration voted against plans drawn up by the Labour group to clean it up and employ a specialist officer.

“I have written to the chief executive of Barnet Council, as I think they are missing a few notes in not prioritising the improvements to the waterways and tying them only to the long-delayed expansion to the shopping centre.

“If the council is serious about cleaning up the Welsh Harp, it will make sure that these works are undertaken.”

Local people have also been trying to clean up the reservoir such as the volunteer group Friends of the Welsh Harp,  who meet on a weekly basis and have so far picked up tonnes of rubbish.

The new joint vision for the reservoir will be led by CRT, Brent and Barnet Councils, the Greater London Authority, Thames21, London Wildlife Trust, the Environment Agency, and Natural England.

The online form can be accessed here until 22nd October.