Lea Marshes   Basketball project

From: Abigail Woodman
Date: 30 June 2012 14:32:15 BST
To: Giorgia Sharpe
Cc: Mark Sorrell
Subject: Response to the Reinstatement Plan

Dear Giorgia

Please find my comments and questions about the ODA's reinstatement plan for Leyton Marsh below.

I look forward to a revised version of the plan that takes my concerns into account and answers my questions.

With best wishes

See ODA's Leyton Marsh Reinstatement Report (June 25)
Sports Turf Research Institute: I am concerned that STRI carried out the site condition survey and seem to be taking responsibility for the reinstatement of the turf, yet have no experience of managing this kind of project. On page 24 of Appendix C, it says that 'STRI retain a reputation for being the world's leading environmental consultants working in the sports and leisure sectors.' Yet, a detailed examination of their website provides absolutely no examples of their involvement with environmentally complex projects. Instead, it tells us that STRI provides natural and artificial sports surfaces. Leyton Marsh is neither a playing field not a recreation ground. We need a consultant who really does have specialist experience.
STRI's lack of experience shows: STRI's lack of experience working with this kind of habitat is evidenced by the flaws in the species list. The mistakes made with the Latin names have been corrected, but it needed members of Save Leyton Marsh to point them out. I am also concerned that the survey itself was inadequate. There is no information on where the plant surveys were done and over what area. They cannot show what was on the excavated areas because the surveys post-date the work on the site, and they were completed at only one point in the year and so cannot show the diversity of plant life across the year. They is also no mention of fungi or microorganisms despite the a statement on page 5 of the main reinstatement report saying, 'There was lots of worm activity in the profile' and paragraph 4.7.1 of the Atkins ecology report stating that the only chance fungi have to re-establish themselves is from spores in the topsoil as the actual mycelia are likely already dead. I reiterate, we need a consultant who really does have specialist experience.
The seed specification seems incomplete: I understand the rationale behind excluding relatively invasive species, such as daisy and dandelion, from the seed mix, but I am unclear why other species identified during the survey (for example, wall speedwell, thistle, ragwort, horn plantain and cinquefoil) have been excluded. I repeat, we need a consultant who really does have specialist experience.
Top soil: On pages 5 and 10 of the main reinstatement report it says, 'XX% of the top soil has been found unsuitable for reuse because of contaminates'. How have you sorted the top soil to determine what is safe to reuse and what isn't? And where will the imported soil come from?
Flawed statements regarding the consultation: On page 9 of the reinstatement report it states that, 'The 'thick' turf option was also supported by the majority of the Residents engaged with'. This is a completely disingenuous reading of local people's opinions. There is little, if any, support for the 'thick' turf option. I recall residents trying to point out that promising to give Leyton Marsh back to us by 15 October 2012 AND returning it in the state it was in before the vandalism began is absolutely impossible; that the only way you could return it to us in a useable state by 15 October 2012 was to use the 'thick' turf roll and that we were therefore being offered a choice that wasn't really a choice at all. I would like to see this statement changed to 'Residents are unhappy about the options presented to them and do not feel that any of them will return the land to its original state.'
Decisions about the turf: It seems as if many of the decisions about the turf are yet to be made. These are fundamental to the reinstatement plan and should be incorporated in the report, for consultation and to help LBWF make their decision.
Testing for harmful pests and diseases: On page 12 of the reinstatement report it says, 'and is regularly tested for harmful pests and diseases'. What is the definition of harmful? And how will you be eradicating harmful pests and diseases without damaging microorganisms? I am concerned that non-native species, which might not be considered harmful, will be introduced to the marsh and that microorganisms that are required for a healthy soil structure will not be reintroduced with the turf. I do not want to see any pesticides or chemical-based fertilisers used on the land.
Timetable of works: Surely the timetable of works should start after permission has been given by LBWF? If, in fact, work has already begun on the turf (which, if it has, makes a mockery of the process of consultation and planning permission) then I would like to see the results of the analysis that should already have taken place.
Site preparation: The report focuses on the topsoil but what about the sub-base? How will the volume of rubble removed from the site be replaced? This being done well will be critical to the long-term health of the turf. The report states that the turf will be relaid if it fails, but what will happen if the sub-base isn't laid properly? What precautions are being put in place and what working methods will be established to ensure the land won't turn to bog, subside or collapse in the years to come?
Site area: The site marked up in Appendix C is much larger that the area fenced off by the development. Why? I would like to be that you won't be re-turfing areas that haven't been affected by the development.
Appendices: Why are many of the appendices missing? What do they contain?