Sadiq Khan visits Kew Gardens to promote £1m Greener City Fund for communities

London Mayor Sadiq Khan today visited Royal Botanic Gardens Kew to promote his £1m Greener City Fund for community groups.

Khan (centre) praised the work done at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. Image: Greater London Authority
Khan (centre) praised the work done at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. Image: Greater London Authority

The £1m is part of the £9m Greener City Fund which the mayor announced in his draft London Environment Strategy earlier this month.

The strategy set out his plans to make London the first National Park City, something he aims to launch at an international summit in Spring 2019. Khan is working with partners across London to set criteria for a National Park City, which will include:

  • Protecting and increasing the amount of green space in the capital
  • Increasing access to green spaces for Londoners of all ages, particularly in areas where there is currently a deficiency
  • Increasing the quality of green spaces, ensuring they are well maintained and create healthy habitats for wildlife
  • Valuing London green spaces, accounting for the health, environmental, social and economic benefits it brings to London

The Mayor has pledged to publish a natural capital account for London later this year to highlight the economic value of London’s green infrastructure.

Visiting Kew this morning, he encouraged community groups to apply for grants of between £5,000 and £50,000, which can be used for a range of projects from lining walking routes to schools with air quality boosting trees, to creating mini play spaces and community gardens in built-up areas.

Khan’s interest in urban greening is connected to his pledge to tackle London’s pollution problem, which he describes as a health emergency. He has also announced a £1 million Air Quality Business Fund for businesses to help tackle air pollution by creating five Business Low Emission Neighbourhoods (LENs) and a £5m fund for eight local authorities to deliver five borough LENs. The LENs will be able to use the money for pollution-mitigating green infrastructure schemes, among other measures, and will also be able to attract match funding from the private sector to support delivery.

Today Khan met Kew horticultural students and scientists to hear more about the botanic garden’s world-class research. Scientists have been involved in research into the traits of different tree species to identify which are best at surviving a climate-altered future environment because of their deep roots, leaf shape and size. Pollution-busting street trees could help to cut climate change but also improve air quality – particularly by London’s busy roads. 

The Mayor said: "In London we are battling a toxic air health crisis which is contributing to over 9,000 premature deaths every year and damaging our children’s lungs. That’s why the scientific research being done at Kew is so important in helping us look after our environment. Kew’s amazing work is further evidence for why it’s so important to invest in and protect our parks and woodlands, as well as help support this world-class research.

"Kew Gardens and its 14,000 trees, tropical plants and palms is one of the many outstanding green spaces in London and highlights why we should become the world’s first National Park City.

‘We need more greenery across all of our communities and I want everyone - young and old - to be able to get involved in helping make local areas greener. That’s why I’m announcing £1 million in green grants for local groups to help create the community gardens, play areas and allotments needed to improve our air and enrich our daily lives."

Kew director Richard Deverell said: "Plants are the foundation of all life but they need people to be their champions. Plants can be squeezed out of our lives, but everyone gains when we welcome them back into the heart of our towns and cities."

For more information and to apply for the grants, visit www.london.gov.uk.


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