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Waterworks Festival: Backlash over plans for 8,000 capacity dance music festival next to Leyton nature reserve

PUBLISHED: 16:14 28 February 2020 | UPDATED: 10:51 02 March 2020

A bird takes flight at Walthamstow Marshes in February 2020. Picture: Giles Greenwood

A bird takes flight at Walthamstow Marshes in February 2020. Picture: Giles Greenwood

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Plans to hold a major dance music festival next to the Waterworks Nature Reserve off Lea Bridge Road have not gone down well with environmental campaigners.

The Waterworks Nature Reserve. Picture: Lee Valley Regional Park AuthorityThe Waterworks Nature Reserve. Picture: Lee Valley Regional Park Authority

A licensing application has been submitted to Waltham Forest Council for the 8,000 person Waterworks Festival in August, featuring the likes of Ben UFO, Sherelle and Shanti Celeste.

It will take place on a disused pitch and putt golf course on what was Leyton Marshes, next to the nature reserve and Walthamstow Marshes, a Site of Specific Interest (SSSI).

Campaigners say the location will be "catastrophic" for wildlife and have submitted objections on mass ahead of a decision by the licensing committee.

Caroline Day of the Save Lea Marshes group told the Gazette: "We are not opposed to a music festival - I go to music festivals - but this is an inappropriate location for a festival of this kind. A beautiful meadow is going to be destroyed and won't grow back for three years. It just seems tone deaf in these times of ecological emergency.

"There's very contradictory stuff coming out. They say there will be 'unparalleled sound quality' at 'high levels' on their website and then in the application they say they will control the sound."

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After Radio 1's Hackney Weekend was held on Hackney Marshes in 2012 the cost to repair the damage was £195,000. There were also complaints the marshes were closed off to the public for a month while the festival was set-up.

The Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, which owns the land, said parts of the reserve would remain open during Waterworks.

The festival has been set up by indie promoters Percolate and Team Love. A marketing campaign has also launched and tickets can now be bought, leading campaigners to believe it is a foregone conclusion.

Many are boycotting a public meeting with promoters and the LVRPA, which owns the land, next week, as a result.

Fred Letts, of Percolate, has lived in Clapton for eight years and said he understood the concerns, but stressed the promoters will do all they can to prevent any harm - including carrying out ecological assessments before, during and after the event, monitoring sound and ensuring no litter is left on site.

He said: "We passionately believe the festival has an opportunity to be a power of good within the community, and we plan on using any influence we gather to deliver this vision. We are confident in our ability to achieve this in a way that does not damage the flora and fauna of the site, and will be under scrutiny and review from the landowners and the community at all times."

He added the boast of "unparalleled sound quality" in relation to sound pressure and volume related to the technology equipment being used.

LVRPA said it would not have agreed to the event unless it was satisfied the impact on the area would be "minimal".


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