A ‘beautiful haven of calm’ in Hackney is being damaged by illegal all-night raves, says Hackney council.
Large numbers of people travel to Hackney Wick Woodland area for the parties, which has led to local residents having to put up with loud music, pollution and damage to the environment.
Hackney Council, backed by police, want to create a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) for the woodland which would allow officers to fine organisers and attendees up to £100 on the spot.
Hackney Wick Woodland is a 20.39 acre nature reserve located next to the A12, close to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. It lies on the lower end of Hackney Marshes. In the 1980s it was a place to play football, and trees were planted in 1996 to create the Woodland. The Woodland Trust describes it as “a beautiful haven of calm with a mixture of older, statuesque trees and younger woodland.”
Partygoers have been enjoying the events for at least four years, as seen in footage taken in 2014. A local resident, who has asked not to be named, said: “They’ve been going on for quite a while. I heard it’s just a bunch of hipsters taking drugs in the forest.”
Their exact nature, however, remains a well-kept secret: “You have to be part of that group to hear about them,” the resident said.
Kerrum Marsayiah, 25, described his experience at a woodland rave: “We went to one in the woods just off Hackney Wick canal, it was all the same people that we normally partied with in the warehouses, except being in the woods, there was more of an opportunity for people to join and the whole thing got a little messy.”
The raves form a part of London’s booming underground party scene, with organisers using social media to entice revellers to forests, converted warehouses and empty properties. Last month an illegal rave in Barking attracted 2,000 people and led to a five-hour stand-off with police.
The Council has launched a consultation with residents in the surrounding area to protect Hackney Wick Woodland from environmental damage as a result of “antisocial behaviour” resulting from the illegal raves.
Residents have put up with littering, fly-tipping, dire damage and the uprooting of trees and plants in and around the forest.
In the past, the Council and the police have worked together to try and prevent the parties from taking place, with natural fencing and logs installed to restrict access to the area. The Council has also applied for injunctions to prevent organisers from setting up the raves, as well as issuing community protection warnings.
Councillor Caroline Selman, Cabinet Member for Community Safety, Policy, and the Voluntary Sector, said: “Hackney Wick Woodland is Hackney’s green lung, and we want to make sure that it remains a place that everyone can enjoy.”
“Following significant damage to the Woodland area and regular large-scale illegal raves that often go on all night, causing severe disruption to people in the area, we want to introduce these plans to protect both the Woodland and the people who live beside it.”
“I’d encourage people in the area who want to make sure the Woodland is protected, and remains a place for everyone, to respond to the consultation.”
Residents have until Wednesday, December 5 to get involved.
Attempts were made to contact those organising the raves for comment, but they have so far remained untraceable.