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Enfield Green Party statement on the Go Ape facility in Trent Park

Enfield Council has given permission for Go Ape to build and operate an aerial adventure course in the Church Wood section of Trent Park Country Park (TP). Though supported by the Friends of Trent Park this has been vigorously opposed by some local people, including a newly-formed organisation, the True Friends of Trent Park, and there has been some vandalism by opponents.

As advocates of open-air recreation and defenders of parks and open spaces Enfield Green Party (EGP) has given this development serious consideration.

We have decided, very much on balance, in favour of this facility:

  • We appreciate that the GA facility will provide active, healthy, outdoor activity in a green environment for those choosing to use it.
  • We acknowledge some participants may discover the other benefits provided by TP and may enjoy them.
  • While we are not clear on the figures we understand Enfield Council will gain some income from GA.
  • We recognise that GA will provide some much-needed local jobs.
However, we recognise that the nature of Church Wood will be changed. The most significant aspect of this is the inevitable noise from participants using the facility:
  • Those who wish to experience the woods punctuated only by the sounds of nature will have to visit other parts of TP. This will be particularly difficult for the blind and partially-sighted who use the blind trail.
  • Some animals may be driven away by the noise, leading to some local loss of biodiversity.
Enfield Green Party urges Enfield Council to institute monitoring of the biodiversity in Church Wood to determine whether Go Ape has any adverse effects.

The decision raises wider issues. Though we condemn the vandalism we recognise that the Council's consultation process was inadequate (though presumably legal). The limited nature of the consultation led some people to feel that the whole thing had been sprung on them and to respond with anger and wild claims. Enfield Council should have recognised that this development was going to be controversial and should have taken more steps to involve current park users and the families and children who might use Go Ape in the future.

Though taking longer and costing more an extended process would have had more chance of creating consensus. It is the cost of democracy.

A final point about the future. GA is a commercial enterprise and may wish to expand its TP facilities in the future. The aerial adventure course is acceptable because of its modest impact. It must not be the thin end of the wedge for additional noisy or damaging developments.

Published and promoted by Bill Linton for Enfield Green Party, both at 39A Fox Lane, London N13 4AJ