I’m pleased to see Sadiq Khan finally commit to the London National Park City initiative. This is very welcome, as it is a step towards protecting and enhancing London’s green spaces. It comes somewhat late, though – over a year ago, Hampstead Town became the first Camden ward to formally endorse the scheme!
But that’s not my biggest problem with this news. It’s mostly that it appears to be hot air – when London’s environment needs actions, not words.
In the mayoral election campaign, Sadiq Khan promised to plant two million new trees: an increase of about a quarter.
After the election, of course, it became a different story altogether, and Sadiq Khan pretended he’d never made the promise at all!
Now, Khan wants to increase the number of trees not by 25% by 2020, but by 5% by 2025: one fifth as much and five years late!
Sadiq Khan’s promise mattered, because trees have a huge impact on quality of life. Not only are they attractive, but they reduce air pollution to the extent that having just ten extra trees on your street improves your self-identified health by the equivalent of reducing your age by 7 or increasing your income by $10,000.
As noted, Hampstead Town’s councillors’ proactive endorsement ensured Hampstead Town was the first ward in Camden to sign up to the National Park City initiative. But unlike Sadiq Khan, we are backing that up with words. We want to see more trees planted on our streets, with an aim of 100 net new street trees in Hampstead Town within four years. By doing that, we can help make a National Park City a reality, not just a soundbite.