London commission on green spaces
A report has just been issued: London Green Spaces Commission Report
It is a useful summary of issues and had some interesting statistics which highlight the importance of green space in London. For example:
* Living in greener places is linked to longer life expectancy and better mental and physical health.
* Covering almost one fifth of the city, green spaces save London £950m per year in avoided health costs.
* Parks and green space help reduce urban temperatures by up to 2°C during heat waves.
* Parks and green spaces are socially inclusive providing free outdoor public space open to anyone regardless of who they are or where they live.
* London’s parks have been estimated to store 5.5 million tonnes of carbon annually, with an economic benefit estimated at £340 million.
Although often eloquent in its advocacy of greenspace, the report is disappointing overall. It lacks real insight and has no radical ideas for improving green space.
Great store is set by bureaucratic solutions such as creating a ‘Centre of Excellence for London’s Parks and & Green Spaces’, but nothing on the much more important issues such as political will and policies which threaten greenspace.
The report was compiled and contributed to by a wide selection of the ‘great and the good’ but they seem scared of ruffling feathers by discussing the key underlying social, economic and political issues. With figures such as Ealing Council Leader Julian Bell, Vice Chair of the Commission, this is perhaps not surprising – Ealing Council is trying to concrete over its green spaces such as Warren Farm and Gurnell.
One could imagine all the recommendations being carried out without there being any significant improvement in green space or even mitigation of losses.