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Mayor’s green ambitions invite our response

Friday 25th August 2017

Sadiq Khan at Woodberry Wetlands (credit Ian Tokelove/London Willdlife Trust)Sadiq Khan at Woodberry Wetlands (credit Ian Tokelove/London Wildlife Trust)

The Mayor of London published his draft London Environment Strategy at Woodberry Wetlands this month - now all Londoners can submit their views.

The strategy sets out a number of bold objectives to address many of the environmental challenges that London faces; from dreadful air quality, threatened greenspaces, declining biodiversity, and flood risk, to over-reliance on fossil fuels, growing energy demands, and water scarcity. How these challenges are already being addressed, and how the Mayor aims to meet them over the next few years, is also set out in the document.

While the city has seen significant improvements over recent decades, such as in river water quality and the reduction in atmospheric sulphur, London Wildlife Trust believes the capital's environment requires a step-change if it is to become a healthy place for us to live, work and play.

The Mayor has made some welcome and challenging commitments to protecting London's environment

The strategy sets out some proposals to benefit biodiversity and the city's natural heritage, under three broad actions:

  • Increasing cover of green space, making more than half of London green or blue (water) space by 2050 (it is currently 47% green/blue space);
  • Conserving and enhancing wildlife and natural habitats;
  • Valuing London's natural capital as an economic asset so as to secure greater investment in its management and creation.

Within these there are proposals, which include maintaining the protection for Green Belt and for wildlife sites such as SINCs (Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation), to enhance access to greenspaces, increase the amount of greenery on our buildings and along our streets (for example with living roofs, street trees and rain gardens), to increase the amount and quality of a range of wildlife habitats, and to help organisations provide more opportunities for volunteering.

More significantly, the strategy sets out the case for establishing a London Green Spaces Commission. This would explore options for resourcing and managing the city's green infrastructure into the future, especially against the backdrop of public austerity, the recognition of the benefits of greenspaces to health, and the presence of the financial sector in the city.

Mayor of London's draft Environment StrategyThe pressures of development are recognised with a proposal to introduce a 'green space factor' based on that being operated in the Swedish city of Malmö. This tool aims to ensure that every kind of development, no matter its size, secures a certain amount of greenery either on or close to the site.

Finally, the strategy aims to meet a mayoral commitment to make London a National Park City, by "giving everyone opportunities to experience, enjoy and benefit from the natural environment". A National Park City, it suggests, could help London's green infrastructure to "be better managed to benefit people and nature, and the economy on which all Londoners depend".

Mathew Frith, London Wildlife Trust's Director of Conservation, said: "The Mayor has made some welcome and challenging commitments to protecting London's environment over the course of the next few years. We strongly support the development of his Environment Strategy, and hope its adopted policies and proposals will serve to make London a leader – once again – in developing innovative and rigorous approaches to urban greening.

"We look forward to continuing our work with the Greater London Authority to ensure that the city’s wildlife and rich ecological assets are better protected, and managed effectively to ensure that the capital is a place where people can benefit from, and enjoy, the natural world around them."

The strategy asks some specific questions including whether the proposals provide sufficient protection for wildlife habitats and asking what the attributes of a National Park City should be. It also includes proposals relating to air quality, waste, climate change, ambient noise, and energy, some of which will relate to the natural environment, although there an integrated approach has been taken throughout.

London Wildlife Trust will be responding to the proposals by the deadline of 17th November. We urge others to make their views known before the same date; there is also a shorter public survey.

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