We're helping clean up significant commercial waste incident at conservation area

Volunteers from the local community and the Trust have removed 1,398 tyres from much-loved beauty spot and Site of Special Scientific Interest, Brent Reservoir, also known as the Welsh Harp.

View across Brent (Welsh Harp) reservoir View across Brent (Welsh Harp) reservoir

The removal proved to be a large-scale logistical operation, with the tyres fly tipped in woodland on the southeast side of the reservoir. Volunteers from the group Friends of the Welsh Harp recovered the tyres from the woodland and, with the additional help of corporate volunteers from Argent, we moved the tyres to a car park where a sustainable waste management company could collect them. The irresponsible and illegal fly tipping was reported to the Environment Agency waste crimes team.

A shocking sight

Ros Daniels, our director for London & South East, said: “It is shocking to think that a local business has dumped hundreds of used tyres in one of London’s precious Sites of Special Scientific Interest. As a charity, we have had to divert precious funds away from other important environmental and heritage maintenance to pay for the sustainable removal of the tyres.

“The removal of this industrial waste is part of the commitment of the Trust and partners at Brent and Barnet councils to overcome the historic issues that have overshadowed this treasured habitat, and ensure the vision the community has tirelessly worked towards for the Welsh Harp is realised.

“I am delighted to announce that the Trust has successfully secured £100k of funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery to carry out further works this winter to improve the reservoir for people and wildlife.”

Funding from the People's Postcode Lottery

The funding from the People's Postcode Lottery will pay for extensive works that will address two of the most serious concerns expressed by the community that have previously proven the more challenging to resolve: clearance of debris on the East Marsh, including from the River Brent inlet downstream of the Environment Agency’s debris screen; and removal of plastics and debris by boat from silt and shallow marsh.

In November, we began a scheduled programme of ‘winter works’ as part of the charity’s statutory duty of maintaining the reservoir structure. As recommended by the inspection earlier this year, the Trust will spend £85k on remedial works, with the reservoir remaining fully operational, and water levels not adjusted at any time.

What's happening this winter?

Other works taking place this winter include a geophysical survey of the reservoir and a review and upgrade of all electrical works associated with the operation of the sluices controlling the water within the reservoir. These works are due to take place between January and March 2022.

We're creating a Joint Vision for the future of the Welsh Harp Reservoir which will help address the fly-tipping and littering that continues to spoil the site, working with the London Boroughs of Brent, and Barnet, the GLA, Thames21, London Wildlife Trust, the Environment Agency, and Natural England.

Local people were invited to share their views this autumn, to contribute to an action plan for improvements and routes for funding to deliver the Joint Vision. This plan will be published by the end of 2021.