London Mayor Boris Johnson and actress Barbara Windsor enjoy a street party in Tower Hamlets with the Rocky Park Urban Growers - a local project to plant vegetables and transform a neglected space in the community.
Boris progresses 'Greater London National Park'
23rd December 2014
London Major Boris Johnson has taken a key first step towards a new Greater London National Park to safeguard the city's green spaces, waterways and natural treasures - and open them up for people to enjoy.
Those standing for Mayor need to recognise that the city could be at the forefront of a green revolution.
The office of the London Mayor, Boris Johnson, is to progress moves towards a Greater London National Park.
Daniel Raven-Ellison, who developed the concept and is now campaigning for its fruition, expressed himself "delighted" with the development.
"The Mayor's office has offered to 'allocate some officer time' to support our 'endeavours' in developing a proposal for a Greater London National Park", he announced today. "This is great news and moves our campaign into a new phase."
Last October Johnson described the concept as "an engaging way of sparking debate" but argued that he did not have the power to create a new class of urban park, so today's move indicates an important change in thinking - and may indicate his desire to secure a long-term 'green' legacy for London.
Al though London is well known as once of the world's great cities, it has another side. Of the proposed London Park's 1,500 square kilometres, home to over 8 million people, 60% of the area consists of green, blue and open spaces.
Over 1,300 Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation cover 19% of the proposed Park area, which is home to more than 1,500 species of flowering plant and 300 species of bird, with four UNESCO World Heritage Sites, one of Britain's National Trails, and 170 museums.
But the main beneficiaries of the Park's designation would be London's people, Raven-Ellison told The Ecologist, by encouraging more people to enjoy and explore London's wild spaces, and make use of natural corridors for walking, running and enjoyment.
"We have the new wetlands in Walthamstow, or the Colne Valley and Sydenham Woods. But if you were new to London you wouldn't necessarily visit these places because you'd be unaware of them. National Park City status could change that."
He emphasises that the initiative would not add significantly to local taxes: "It wouldn't have to cost a huge amount of money because there are already tens of thousands of people already delivering environmental services. We just need a great team to pull it all together, create new opportunities and unlock London's potential."
A hot topic for the 2016 election?
Although the UK has its general election in 2015, London's next mayoral elections are in 2016, giving plenty more time to build up steam behind the campaign.
Boris is expected to stand down as Mayor in 2016 to give his full-time attention to national politics as an MP, having already been selected as the Tory candidate for the Uxbridge & South Ruislip constituency, a safe Conservative seat.
With the Greater London National Park looking like a strong vote winner, most 2016 Mayoral candidates are likely to back the plan - with the exception of UKIP with its dyed-in-the-wool anti-environment tendencies.
"Those standing for mayor need to recognise that the city could be at the forefront of a green revolution", says Raven Ellison, who is already canvassing prospective candidates.
"It is a no brainer. The issues are too pressing to ignore. And this is a big vision we can all get behind."
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