Big boost for park life in Palmers Green

Lakes, ponds and wetlands in Broomfield Park will benefit from a specialist ecology audit backed by the Environment Agency

Broomfield Park's lower lake (credit Helen Gudgeon)
Broomfield Park’s lower lake (credit Helen Gudgeon)

Work to restore the health of the lakes, wildlife pond and wetlands at Broomfield Park has won the support of the Environment Agency.

An agreement has been signed to commission an ecologist to produce an environmental audit and an enhancement strategy to increase biodiversity and water quality at the popular Palmers Green park. MK Associates will now be conducting this and reporting back towards the end of the year.

Elena Phrydas, a committee member with Friends of Broomfield Park who has been leading on the project, said: “So many of us care deeply for our local park and the creatures that live there but we need expertise on the next steps to look after this environment. This will bridge that gap.”

Lewis Elmes for the Environment Agency said: “We are delighted to support this project. It is a great example of a community caring about and wanting to improve the local environment by taking thoughtful and determined action, based on science.”

Next spring, teams of volunteers will start to test water quality in all the park’s watercourses. There will be new planting to help improve water quality and provide natural food for birds and other wildlife.

Jenny Edwards, who started a lakes action team within the friends group, added: “This will be a great example of citizen science in action to help clean the waters that are so vital to our local and global environment.”

Huge amounts of plastic litter and large items, such shopping trollies, traffic cones, bikes and chairs had accumulated over many years in Broomfield Park’s lakes, but have now been pulled out by Jenny’s team of volunteers.

As the lakes have improved, blooms of daphne flowers and sightings of sticklebacks have returned. There has also been an increase in ducks and geese and, since last year, a family of swans has nested in the park “for the first time in living memory”.

However, there remain problems with water quality, as high levels of phosphates and nitrates persist, as well as occasional suspected sewage contamination. Algal blooms occur and, in some years, duckweed has completely blanketed the lakes. Studies have found high levels of road runoff pollutants from Alderman’s Hill traffic.

Enfield’s Blue and Green Strategy published in 2020 lists Broomfield Park as one of the three areas in the borough with the potential to be upgraded to a borough-grade site of importance for nature conservation (Sinc), with key significance for wildlife in Enfield. The project is being managed by a project board which includes the Environment Agency, Enfield Council, Thames Water, Thames 21 and Friends of Broomfield Park.

Rick Jewell, the council’s cabinet member for environment at Enfield Council, said: “The council is pleased to play an integral part in the project to help improve water quality and biodiversity within Broomfield Park.

“By having a member of the watercourses team from the council on the project board, we are able to provide invaluable help, support, and advice to members of the Friends of Broomfield Park.

“We also provide specialist knowledge on the park’s watercourses including the three lakes and the wetlands.”

This project is separate from the work being undertaken on a London Borough of Enfield bid for lottery funding for the future for the park, including restoring the gardens and lakes and memorializing Broomfield House. The outcome of this bid is expected in December.