Hackney Wick Woodland raves: Council seeks new powers to curb damage and din allegedly caused by unauthorised parties

A rave in Hackney Wick woodland organised by Keep On Going. Picture: YouTube

A rave in Hackney Wick woodland organised by Keep On Going. Picture: YouTube - Credit: youtube

New powers could be introduced to protect Hackney Wick Woodland from the damage and noise inflicted by large-scale, illegal all-night raves.

Hackney Council is consulting on whether to impose a public space protection order (PSPO) on the triangular wooded area bounded by Homerton Road, the A12 and the River Lea.

It would give police and council officers the authority to issue £100 on-the-spot fines to those organising and attending raves, and anyone caught selling or in possession of laughing gas there.

Neighbours have apparently been plagued by sleepless nights for years because of loud music emanating from the all-night parties. Anti-social behaviour has included fly-tipping, fire damage and the uprooting of trees and plants, the council says.

Despite installing logs and natural fencing to make the area difficult to access with machinery, applying for injunctions to prevent organisers from setting up raves, and issuing community protection warnings, the unauthorised events have continued regardless.

The council’s safety chief Cllr Caroline Selman said: “Hackney Wick Woodland is Hackney’s green lung, and we want to make sure that it remains a place that everyone can enjoy. We want to introduce these plans to protect both the woodland and the people who live beside it.”

The PSPO would ban people playing loud music or operating an engine or generator within the area. Council and police officers could impose 48-hour dispersal notices or on-the-spot fines of £100. Failure to pay could result in prosecution.

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In a Time Out interview this summer, a sound engineer who goes by the name Insoucient spoke about the “legendary forest parties” he has been organising in places like Hackney Wick since 2017 - with an apparently strict “leave no trace” ethos.

“We create a nice buzz by keeping it under the radar, going back to how it was done decades ago,” he said. “Instead of putting out a phone number, we send a mail out on the morning of the rave with a little map. It can be tough at times. We get up at ridiculous o’clock to lug subs [speakers] down stairs, load them in vans and get all our mates organised so you can get all this stuff into the forest without being seen.”

To comment see consultation.hackney.gov.uk before December 5.

Have you been to a rave at the woodland? Or do you live nearby? What do you think about the plans? E-mail gazette.letters@archant.co.uk