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School pupils help transform playground into wild haven

Rain gardens installed at Oakthorpe Primary School to reduce flood risk and boost wildlife

Oakthorpe Primary School pupils helping to plant rain garden (credit Enfield Council)
Oakthorpe Primary School pupils helping to plant rain garden (credit Enfield Council)

Pupils at Oakthorpe Primary School in Bowes have helped reduce flood risk and boost wildlife through the creation of a unique sustainable drainage system (Suds) in their playground.

The installation of the Suds has been led by Enfield Council to create much-needed flood protection for the school, while also providing attractive, green features that will help with learning about the environment, biodiversity and climate change.

Funding for the project came from City Hall’s Grow Back Greener Fund which aims to support a wide range of projects to help make London “greener, fairer, healthier and more climate resilient”.

Joining Oakthorpe Primary School pupils at a planting session last week was Rick Jewell, the council’s cabinet member for environment, and deputy leader Ergin Erbil. Cllr Jewell said: “The new Suds at Oakthorpe School has had an amazing impact. The playground has totally changed from a large, grey paved area to a thing of beauty.

“By the spring, the plants will be thriving and hopefully, there will be lots of visiting insects and pollinators. Importantly, during downpours, these rain gardens will absorb lots of water, so the children will still be able to play outside. The work here and at the neighbouring Kiln Lane Open Space will prevent further flooding and pollution from dirty run-off water from roads.”


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Alongside the school, work has begun on Tile Kiln Open Space, a leafy, hidden area of meadow and woodland alongside Pymmes Brook, near the North Circular. The council’s intention is to create a new wetland natural trail, which can be enjoyed by pupils and residents. Environmental charity Thames 21 has already hosted a number of community planting days and river clean-up sessions along the brook.

Council deputy leader Ergin Erbil (rear, left) and cabinet member Rick Jewell (rear, right) with pupils from Oakthorpe Primary School (credit Enfield Council)
Council deputy leader Ergin Erbil (rear, left) and cabinet member Rick Jewell (rear, right) with pupils from Oakthorpe Primary School (credit Enfield Council)

Cllr Erbil added: “Enfield Council is keen to improve the quality of life for all our residents. We have tried to identify unique and effective ways to introduce planting, nature restoration and flood management solutions, which also contribute to our climate action targets and help us to move closer to a carbon net neutral position. Our ambition is for Enfield to become a greener, more sustainable borough.”

To volunteer for planting and river restoration events in Enfield, visit the Thames21 events page:
Visit thames21.org.uk/events


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