Barnet Post

Barnet Post

Row over state of Welsh Harp Reservoir

Complaints over condition of borough wildlife haven

Hero for Row over state of Welsh Harp Reservoir
Welsh Harp Reservoir is a site of special scientific interest (credit James Cracknell)

A London Assembly member has called on Barnet Council to help clean up a reservoir and conservation area.

Labour's Anne Clarke, Labour’s assembly member for Barnet and Camden and a councillor in Childs Hill, said the state of the Welsh Harp Reservoir was a “disgrace” and had been allowed to become “dirty, litter-filled and polluted” by “successive failures”.

She has written to the council’s chief executive urging the authority to prioritise improvements to the River Brent, which flows into the reservoir, warning they are being held up by delays to the expansion of Brent Cross Shopping Centre.

Her letter states that it is “unacceptable” that hard work going into improving the condition of the Welsh Harp could be undermined because of the “endless” delays to the Brent Cross scheme.

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.”

The Welsh Harp – also known as Brent Reservoir – is a site of special scientific interest and supports a wide range of wetland birds and plants.

Barnet Council is one of the organisations involved in the management of the reservoir, which is owned by the Canals and Rivers Trust.

A council spokesperson said the council recognises the importance of the Welsh Harp and is working with partner organisations to develop a long-term vision to ensure it is maintained to a high standard.

They added: “We are also continuing to actively work with all these stakeholders to tackle issues such as litter, with clearance works in some key areas and providing support for community action days.

“The Brent Cross Cricklewood programme is also always looking for opportunities to improve the area and support community groups and projects, with initiatives like the Brent Cross Town Communities Fund. Over the last two years, this fund has provided £55,000 in grants to support 21 local community projects.

"The Brent Cross Town team will be announcing the 2021 fund later this year, which aims to continue this support.”

Responding on behalf of the Conservative group, environment committee chairman Dean Cohen said improvements to the Welsh harp were already underway.

Cllr Cohen added: “While Cllr Clarke talks, action has been taken and will continue to be taken. By January 2020, funding had already been secured to ensure that a formal plan to improve and clean up the Welsh Harp could be developed.

“We welcome Cllr Clarke’s recent interest in the Welsh Harp and look forward to her support in further Greater London Authority funding opportunities which the team will be seeking.

“Although we do not control the waterways themselves, we are proud to have helped form the Welsh Harp team to support those who do, in making the vital improvements that the area needs.”