London leading on trees?

Throughout his campaign the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, made it clear he’s a fan of trees – promising to scrap the Mayoral newspaper The Londoner in order to pay for more street tree planting in London, for example. But happily, now he is in office, he appears prepared to back up his tree-friendly words with some solid policies that could give them greater protection than anywhere else in the country

Boris recently outlined how he plans to change things in London in ‘Planning for a better London’ and he’s looking at more than just the congestion charge and bendy buses. Trees and woodland also figure large in his vision for the capital and he’s pretty categoric about how he plans to protect them.

Take a look at the ‘Meeting the environmental challenge section’ and you’ll find one of the Mayor’s planning priorities is to ‘To make sure the planning system does all it can to protect and promote trees and woodland’. He is also prioritising the protection and enhancement of open spaces with the Mayor using ‘his planning powers to prevent inappropriate development of open spaces’.

Boris wants to ‘see the planning system used to secure the planting of trees in new developments, and to the extent that it can, to protect the trees in London’s streets’. We can also expect Supplementary Planning Guidance on trees and woodland in 2010/2011.

We are keen to ensure that the Mayor keeps the potential of London’s existing and future woodland firmly in his sights, as well as his beloved street trees. But overall we are delighted with the early words coming from City Hall, much of it in line with our recommendations as contained in our Manifesto for London’s Trees and Woods. We’d just like to see local authorities take note and get busy with the wording in their Core Strategies.

Trees and woodland are clearly seen as crucial elements in the success of one of the world’s greatest cities, especially their potential to mitigate and adapt to climate change (see the Mayor’s other recent publication ‘The London climate change adaptation strategy – Draft report’). So there’s no reason to overlook them elsewhere in the country.

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