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Friday, 31st May 2019

Exploring the progress of the London Environment Strategy – One Year On

What is the London Environment Strategy and what does it aim to achieve?

As one of the six Mayoral strategies*, the London Environment Strategy (LES) is a key document. It forms part of the planning framework for the capital, directing policy and influencing the lives of the millions of us that live and work in the city. However, despite its adoption in May 2018, its fair to say that it hasn’t had the publicity or credit it deserves.

The LES aims to set London’s environment on a better path for the future and improve the lives of those who live, work and play in the city. At present, London is suffering from numerous environmental risks and challenges such as the well-publicised poor air quality, and pressure on utilities, waste, flooding and transport infrastructure. With London’s population growing at an increasing rate (predicted to be 11.1 million residents by 2050) changing how we do things for the better is more important now than ever before.

The spectre of climate change looms ever closer, with the frequency and worsening severity of extreme weather events, such as flash floods and heatwaves, but there is still hope. This May, the UK Government declared a ‘Climate Emergency’ after weeks of protesting by activist groups and announced their ambition to reduce the country’s carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. This most recent development makes the LES, and its strategies, even more critical in addressing this climate emergency and achieving government targets. The LES introduces the four strategic approaches that will be rolled out across London in an attempt to both mitigate and adapt to climate change.

The LES is supported by an implementation plan introduces the following roadmap that combines the London and UK Government lead initiatives, with some important goals and time-based targets.

Click image, to view in full

Source: London Environment Strategy (LES) 

How will these goals be achieved?

It is clear that a ‘business as normal’ approach to planning, environmental/sustainability assessment, building and urban design and asset management is failing to reverse the decline across areas like green space and biodiversity, resource use and health inequalities. The answer lies in disrupting traditional approaches and growing a more integrated set of environmental principles and approaches, from which a more strategic and informed set of decisions can be made, whilst fundamental improvements in efficiency and various win-win outcomes can be achieved.

The Mayor has limited powers over environmental policy, and these goals can only be achieved through a collaborative and joined up approach with government, business, NGOs and Londoners themselves.

Through a series of 6 articles, Temple will explore the four new ‘strategic approaches’ of what is needed to facilitate the ultimate goals of the LES:

  • Healthy Streets – Providing a framework for putting human health and experience at the heart of city planning
  • Low Carbon Circular Economy – Reducing the city’s carbon emissions to reach net zero, and encouraging new industries and behaviours to improve materials’ value for longer
  • Smart Digital Cities – Using data to improve decision making and technologies to solve environmental challenges
  • Green Infrastructure and Natural Capital Accounting – Enhancing the city’s green infrastructure to provide wider social/environmental benefits, and valued economically

as well as looking at:

  • Air Quality and Ambient Noise – how the LES is bringing about improvements to these big environmental challenge
  • Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation – Measures to help minimise greenhouse gas emissions and to ensure the city remains liveable

How can Temple Group Help?
Temple is a leading independent environmental consultancy at the forefront of innovative and sustainable design, and we’ve put together these articles to better inform planning authorities, developers, consultants and other stakeholders of the changes and the new direction, and how they can implement and help achieve the goals of the LES and benefit everybody. Where it helps, these articles are supported by case studies to illustrate good practice in these areas.
Temple has in-house capabilities in all of these areas and considering our existing strong relationships with both the public sector and the developer-side, we are ideally placed to be able to provide value to both sets of parties.

For enquiries, please contact one of our experts on LES@templegroup.co.uk or 0207 3943700

*Environment, Health Inequalities, Housing, Transport, Culture, Economic Development and the London Plan