New London Environment Strategy has laudable ambitions but there is still work to do

Kestrel and aeroplane over London credit Daniel Greenwood

London Wildlife Trust on the publication of the Mayor’s London Environment Strategy this week.

We believe the London Environment Strategy sets out some laudable ambitions to increase the quantity and, importantly, the quality of the capital’s natural habitats, to ensure that London’s amazing biodiversity can be effectively sustained, allowing residents and visitors to enjoy the benefits of a greener city.

We recognise that some aspects of the Strategy will depend on the rigour of a revised London Plan, currently being developed by the Mayor with a view for adoption next year. In particular, we need to see better protection for the wildlife jewels of the capital, London’s Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINCs), as proposed in the London Plan.

Worryingly, the quality and quantity of London’s SINCs is not included as a measure for the Strategy to report on. In addition, reviews of existing strategies, new guidance, and the establishment of a Green Space Commission are promised, but with no real detail as to what the outcomes will be. We will hold the Mayor to account if these fail to meet the highest standards and the aims of the Strategy.

Finally the delivery of the London Environment Strategy needs to be fully integrated with the other Mayoral responsibilities, not only strategic planning, but also, transport, culture, housing and energy. The commitment to declare London as a National Park City – a capital that in our view will be greener, far less polluted and much more environmentally responsible and sustainable – will only be effective if a holistic approach is adopted by the Greater London Authority and its partners. 

London Wildlife Trust provided many detailed comments during the consultation for the Strategy (one of over 350 organisations that did so), and many of these have been taken into account. For example, the role of rivers and wetlands is now better integrated within the proposals for green infrastructure and the natural environment. Concerns over details as to how the Strategy’s recommendations would be delivered have now been reflected in a separate Implementation Plan.

At the Trust we are committed to working with the Mayor and partners to help bring the Strategy to life, for the benefit of London’s residents, London’s visitors, and London’s marvellous wildlife.