The Environment

Mainstreaming, the economy and transport

We have to cut carbon emissions by at least 40% by 2020. So, the environment should not be seen as something extra, but decisions taken by public bodies and private enterprises alike should mainstream the demands of maintaining our environment throughout their decision making processes, whether it is transport, housing or economic development.

There is no doubt that the demand for ‘green’ products and services will grow globally, as the World’s economy recovers from the depredations of the bankers. Labour was right at the last general election to put so much store in developing the UK as the leading green economy of the future, looking to  those industries at the forefront of green technology as the bedrock of the country’s future prosperity.

The GLA must do what it can to facilitate such economic development for both jobs and the environment, as we run the risk of getting left behind under the Conservative administration at City Hall. This requires both the stick of effective regulation to control those who would pollute the environment and the carrot for example, of  the GLA’s procurement powers, where there is huge scope for green initiatives, such as decentralised energy and heating, waste and recycling, and public transport with  low carbon buses.

The most important thing we can do is to reduce demand for the most polluting transport, the private car, through an effective public transport policy, including sensible affordable fares structures and a better deal for cyclists an pedestrians.

Housing and the environment

Alongside the car, the biggest guzzlers of energy (and wasters of it too), are our homes. Energy efficiency is essential to control pollution and also rising gas and electricity bills too. Help with home insulation and efficient boilers, as well as local heating and power schemes in new developments in particular,  must be part of any forward looking green strategy, both for the benefit of the individual resident, whatever basis they occupy their home and the environment  a whole. Planning policy needs to be tough and enforced, to move towards zero emissions homes.

The Green Belt

I have long been an advocate of strict protection of the Green Belt and we must not allow encroachment on it as we deliver the homes London needs. They should be built on the many brownfield sites around the boroughs.  In this context, we should not see gardens as brown field land, to be built on at the whims of developers. I promoted a Bill in Parliament to defend the suburbs against garden grabbing, and we must not allow this to happen. It is our gardens parks and the Green Belt as whole that do so much for our quality of life.


As someone who relies on Farmers’ Markets as much as  possible, I passionately believe we need to do much  more to encourage localised produce, that does not rack up hundreds if not thousands of road freight delivery miles.


London is a long way  behind the best cities in the world suffering , not least because waste management is shared by too many bodies. expensive failure. The Mayor should be in control of those strategic decisions as to how waste is recycled and converted into energy, while the boroughs retain responsibility for waste collection. We need to be sensitive to local communities as planning for waste is taken forward. Unlike the incumbent Conservative London Assembly member, I do not support the proposals for the new waste site at Pinkham Way.

The human right to a decent environment

As the concepts of human rights develop in the 21st century, so there is increasing recognition that the right to a clean environment, to clean air and water, are as basic a human right as it is possible to get and I see environmental issues in these terms; this is the overarching theme that brings together all the detailed policy issues above.

This can be seen  as an extension of the “right to life”, when we learn that Londoners die prematurely because of air pollution in much larger numbers than ever  thought before. At least 3,000, and possibly as many as 6,900, people in London each year do not live as long as they should, because of poor air quality.

Air pollution is especially a problem in central London for Camden residents, with so much traffic on the doorstep; and in outer London in Barnet too, given the number of major trunk roads that go through the borough and intersect, for example near Brent Cross, which records some of the highest pollution  levels in the capital, with the North Circular, M1, A41 and A5 so close to each other. There is little wonder that the European Commission has shamed London  for not even meeting the minimum requirements of their  European Air Quality Directive.

I believe that we need such an underpinning  to our policies for London’s environment.