This statement by the Friends of Barnes Common shows how legitimate environmental issues were completely ignored by RPFC and Wandsworth Council. The “site walkover” referred to was the extent of investigation carried out at the time:
“A site survey and ecological site walkover is of very limited value if it is limited to the site in question, turning a blind eye to the surroundings. That is why it is important that conservationists get across to planners that connectivity is a vital feature and that it is the sum of the parts and not just the site itself which matters.
For instance, Barnes Common is host to 25 locally rare and/or (Red book) endangered invertebrate species in a relic population from when it was much more open – if we simply look at the common in isolation it could not have sustained this population: it is only because it is part of a wider set of connected spaces that so much has survived (including the remarkable total of eight bat species): taking just the aculeate hymenoptera (insects with waists like bees, wasps, ants) 111 were recorded, which tied in closely to the populations found in Richmond Park, Bushy Park etc suggesting there is a circle of connectivity, which is known as the Ham Circle. It is when looking at this that you can soon identify the pinch points where connectivity is most likely to be lost – Rosslyn is slap in the middle of one such pinch point, providing a green space which could be as vital as any linking the Thames/Wetlands to Richmond Park and beyond to the Surrey hills: at night such green spaces would normally become the dark corridors needed by nocturnal wildlife: but if you floodlight it, that is highly destructive, and even more so if that light spills out unnecessarily.
My disappointment at not being aware of the planning meeting is that it is just such points that we try to get across in our 3 minutes of time…. so Councillors on the planning Committee would just have taken the word of the site walk through without being aware of the wider consequences.”