Save the Lapwings at Beddington Farmlands

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The Beddington Incinerator in South London has been built on a 400 acre nature reserve, a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation and supposedly protected as Metropolitan Open Land but now a site of local species extinction. Habitat loss, deforestation, restoration delays and lack of a water management plan have caused ecological collapse with local extinction of the tree sparrow, yellow wagtail, little ringed plover and redshank as well as declines in many species populations.

The lapwings at Beddington Farmlands are now threatened with imminent local extinction.

The Lapwing is a farmland and wetland bird, a member of the plover family and is a ground nesting bird. It has undergone a large reduction in numbers across the country and is a red data list species, considered to be most threatened by extinction.

A healthy population established at Beddington Farmlands in South London and survived amidst the growth of London city into the surrounding agricultural land. The land went on to be managed as waste water treatment which created artificial wetlands, an ideal habitat for the birds. The birds breed on islands surrounded by water but these require special management to ensure water levels make them predator proof. This year has seen a lack of management whereby water levels have completely dried out during the summer allowing foxes to prey on the nests and eggs. 

We call upon Sutton Council, Viridor and Thames Water to work together to manage the land competently ensuring the survival of the Lapwing as well as other bird species reliant on this habitat. 

Solutions have been proposed by the Beddington Farmlands Bird Group as follows;

1)      Habitat management on 100 acre and south east corner to manage the area as wetland suitable for Lapwing breeding with protection from predators. This requires the development and implementation of a Lapwing conservation management plan and the necessary Extraction Licences to manage water across the site.

2)      Water level management of the North and South Lakes. There is existing infrastructure (tilting weirs) on the North and South lakes which are currently un-utilised. Water levels need to be managed to ensure the level does not drop too low allowing foxes onto the island. A water level management plan and implementation is required.

3)       Full and complete implementation of the Beddington Farmlands Conservation Management Scheme (CMS) and Restoration Management Plan (RMP) particularly the completion of phases one to three of Wet Grassland habitat creation, a habitat which is specifically aimed at Lapwings and is currently nearly ten years behind schedule. 

These proposed solutions need to be implemented with urgency to ensure the survival of the Lapwings and other species at Beddington Farmlands.