An environmental group have staged a ‘picnic protest’ to dispute three festivals that will take place this summer on Clapham Common.  

Parts of the common will be fenced off under an agreement between Lambeth Council and Festival Republic, to accommodate three major events over the August Bank Holiday.

However, local group the Friends of Clapham Common (FCC) have argued that the council’s contract is illegal – as it has not been approved by the Secretary of State for the Environment.   

The group held a protest today (August 16) on the common, to express their concerns over 40,000 attendees “trampling” the grass at each event.  

Wandsworth Times: Protesters held placards at Clapham Common today. Protesters held placards at Clapham Common today.

The FCC have said that the Secretary of State will not make a decision by 16 August 2021 and are therefore seeking to stop the events.

Shirley Kermer, Chair of the Friends of Clapham Common, said the group would take legal action to prevent the festivals going ahead. 

She said: “The flagrant breach of law by Lambeth Council is astonishing. We are determined to use the Courts to hold them to account. We would urge campaigners who work to protect their local Commons to join us in our fight.” 

However, Lambeth Council said the correct protocols had been followed.  

A spokesperson said: “Planning permissions have been secured for this year’s temporary events, and we have followed well established practise. We are in dialogue with the Planning Inspectorate about permission to put up temporary structures for the event. 

The FCC have alleged that the last series of events on the common resulted in damage to the ground, causing the Council to fence off the site from September 2020 to June 2021 for the newly seeded grass to recover.  

Wandsworth Times: Protesters held a 'picnic protest' at Clapham Common today. Protesters held a 'picnic protest' at Clapham Common today.

They alleged that the grass is still fragile, and cannot withstand the footfall of 40,000 music festival visitors per day over the August Bank Holiday weekend. 

A Lambeth Council spokesperson said: "We will ensure that any wear and tear to the events section of the common is quickly repaired, and have also secured a further £63,000 to spend on improving parks in Clapham. 

“Music events have been held on Clapham Common for decades and are part of our local cultural scene.   

“This year’s events, including Yam Carnival which celebrates Black culture, are supported by the local business community and will draw large numbers of people both from Lambeth and further afield. Following the Covid-19 pandemic events of this nature play an important role in our local economic recovery.