Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Reimagine London with the Leader of the council

 A good Anthropocene demands that humans use their growing social, economic and technological powers, to make life better for people, stabilise the climate and protect nature. The Ecomodernist Manifesto

Today  at the South Bank Purcell Room, the inspirational Daniel Raven Ellis, asked of a large and positive audience "What if we made Greater London a National Park City"?  This was the 'Welcome to Reimagine London', a day to explore the idea of London becoming the world’s first National Park City. Last year when he came to talk to the Kingston Biodiversity Network, he found himself sharing a platform with Kevin Davis, the Leader of Kingston Council and discovered a fortuitous synergy in goals. Kingston became the first council to sign up to Daniel's vision, which he told us  is now 'our' vision.
Mr Davis was invited as a speaker, at the conference finale, where he shared a platform with distinguished London politicos, after a day packed with a huge range of speakers from a District Commissioner for the Guides, Professors, Psychotherapists as well as the London Wildlife Trust.


Murad Quershi, a London Assembly member on the Environment Committee said that a National Park City would help protect Green Spaces. He said that the Mayor had not got to grips with his statutory biodiversity duty and the London Biodiversity Plan written in 2002 was in need of either updating or the production of  a supplementary document to account for the changes in London's flora and fauna over the last fifteen years.

Stephen Knight who chairs the Environment Committee and is also a councillor for Teddington in the neighbouring Borough of Richmond, bemoaned the lack of investment and poor protection from development of our open spaces. He said that a committee had found that mainly due to paving over of gardens an area the size of two Hyde Parks (200ha) was being lost every year. There are now eight million people in the capital and the same number of trees. He said that as the capital expands this natural environment should not be lost. He saw the National Park city as putting the environment higher up the agenda than it has been.


Kevin Davis said that growth was the biggest challenge for London over the next thirty five years and  8.6.million people will grow into 11 million, as  people move out of the countryside. In Kingston we need to make space for a 36% increase in population and the question is should we build higher or into the green belt? He said that there were many aspects to Kingston: the social, cultural, historic and stressed also the medieval character of the borough as the seat of Kings. He saw the National Park City not just about biodiversity but about preserving all the above and making London a fit place to live in. To this aim he was fully committed to the 'dream'.

Caroline Russel is the only Green councillor with 47 Labour members in the London Borough of Islington. She said that her borough had the least amount of open space in London other than the City, where every inch of green space is much loved and hard won such as Gillespie Park rescued from railways sidings. She would like to see roads being reduced in capacity so that some could be used as green space and the All London Green Grid can be implemented in Islington. She made a major contribution to the discussion on air pollution at question time where the figures for premature  deaths due to particulates and nitrous oxides are truly shocking (running close to 10,000 per annum).

Kevin Davis bemoaned that Kingston is a pollution hotspot and that if we have a 36% increase in population we cannot have a corresponding pollution increase.He discussed the mini-Holland award to increase cycling provision in the borough which he hoped would reduce some of the pollution issues. He twice mentioned  plans to turn Tolworth Court Farm into a Country Park, which would  link to a National Footpath and Cycling Trails. When asked, he said he would oppose fracking in the borough. See more here:  www.greaterlondonnationalpark.org.uk

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