LONDON: Mayor Sadiq Khan has today unveiled the first London-wide Environment Strategy, featuring a new £9m ‘Greener City Fund’ to transform the capital into the world’s first ‘National Park City’.
Speaking this morning in Hackney, Khan promised that by 2050 more than 50 per cent of London’s surface area would be green – a promise he said would be met by significantly boosting the use of green roofs and walls in new developments and improving the quality of existing parks and gardens.
Planning regulations will soon have tougher requirements for developers to include green infrastructure, he said, including the use of “rain gardens” and other green architecture.
The standards will help improve London’s resilience to flash flooding by providing better natural drainage during downpours, he argued.
“From our famous Royal Parks, to our much-loved community gardens and urban nature reserves like Woodberry Wetlands, this ‘green infrastructure’ is a vital asset that improves air quality, boosts quality of life, conserves wildlife and attracts thousands of visitors,” Khan said.
Earlier this year a report from building and flooding professionals warned the race to build new properties to address the UK’s housing shortfall could increase the country’s risk of flooding unless sustainable drainage systems are deployed on a mass scale – a warning echoed by the Committee on Climate Change this summer.
The £9m in new funding was described by the Mayor’s Office as a “first step” towards meeting the 2050 goal, with the cash being made available to local groups looking to plant new trees and revamp community areas.
Alongside the plan for boosting London’s greenery, the Environment Strategy also contains new initatives to ensure the city becomes “zero carbon” by 2050, including plans to reform waste collection across London boroughs and increase deployment of renewable energy in the capital.
In particular, Khan plans to install 100MW of new solar capacity in London by 2030. He said the target would be met by deploying solar across Transport for London and the Greater London Authority estate, funding community solar projects, and establishing new “reverse auctions” to drive down the cost of rooftop solar for private households and businesses.
Deputy Mayor for the Environment Shirley Rodrigues explained the concept of a reverse auction to BusinessGreen. “You invite people to let us know whether they are interested in putting solar panels on their roof,” she said. “You collect all of these, you collect the numbers, and you put that out to tender. Companies then bid for it. So through that competitive process you then drive the price down, and that is then let to companies to deliver.”
But Rodrigues warned there was only so much the Mayor can do to decarbonise the city without further support from national government.
“We’re very clear that cities like London can do a lot, but we can’t do everything. In fact the bulk of decarbonisation has to be at government level,” she told BusinessGreen, calling for more “clarity” from government on wider energy and decarbonisation policy.