Two of the capital’s biggest festivals may be scrapped as they may upset birds

Two of the capital’s biggest festivals may be cancelled this summer over concerns the loud music could upset local birds.

The organisers behind Lovebox Festival wants to hold two new events at Wanstead Flats in east London next year, but could be thwarted by the local population of skylarks.

Acts tipped to play the festivals are Biffy Clyro, Pendulum, Nine Inch Nails, Jess Glynne, Paolo Nutini and Stereophonics.

According to council documents, Steel Yard will have a capacity of 20,000 people a day, and will place on a number of dates at the beginning of September.

It will be hosted in a ‘steel yard’ structure with a ‘high quality’ food and drink offering.

The Kayam Project is described in planning documents as event that is ‘more akin to a concert than a festival’.

The 30,000 capacity event will run for up to six days on two consecutive weekends in June.

But campaigners say the events run the risk of ruining the ‘natural aspect’ of the Flats and could impact on the wildlife of surrounding areas in the middle of breeding season.

The Wren Group added that there is a Skylark nesting area adjacent to the proposed arena site.

Planners have hit back saying the festivals will be held on land usually used as football pitches and the proposals will be environmentally assessed before they are confirmed.

Although the Wanstead Flats encompasses one of the largest areas of acid grassland in London and is therefore a protected site – documents say that the proposed area ‘does not directly impact on the protected acid grassland habitat’.

In a statement to their website, The Wren Group said: “We feel that the combination of the construction and de-rigging of a large arena and the large numbers of people attending one or more music events will be seriously detrimental to its ‘natural aspect’.

“Although the footprint of the arena itself is not on land of special wildlife value, it is close to such areas and it seems clear that the construction process, and very large numbers of people making their way to and from the site will impact on the more wildlife-rich areas – especially as this is the middle of the breeding season for ground-nesting birds.”

In response, council documents state that The Kayam Project, which is to be held in June, accepts there may be a potential impact on the birds. But it says there will be an environmental assessment to check the height of any event structures and the arena’s actual distance from the breeding site.

The council said: “For the June event, in relation to the disturbance issue, there is already considerable summer activity at Alexandra Lake and a car park closure to general visitors during the event may offset this to some extent.

“On the issue of visual intrusion, there would need to be an assessment of the height of the structure and distance from the Skylark breeding site.

“If the vertical structure, although closer, can be in line with the backdrop of trees and other buildings this may be sufficient to mitigate any adverse visual impact on the birds.”

The organisers behind the new events have run Lovebox and Citadel festival since 2003, as well as Wilderness since 2011 and The Great Escape since 2006.

By Ben Gelblum and Adele Whittingham

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