Charting the charter: part III

A cycle hangar in Waltham ForestA cycle hangar in Waltham Forest

In the third of a series of articles following the progress of Wanstead's environmental charter, Councillor Paul Donovan looks at local cycling facilities and asks residents to think carefully about their gardens.

The Wanstead Environmental Charter is really taking shape, with the focus on cutting pollution, increasing biodiversity and combatting climate change.

There have been discussions with Councillor John Howard, the Cabinet member for Civic Pride, about improving cycling facilities and increasing biodiversity. Improvements to cycle lanes around Wanstead and linking to other routes in Redbridge and other boroughs are in the pipeline. Cycle hangars of the type seen in roads across Waltham Forest enabling people to park their cycles safely near their homes will soon be available in Wanstead.

On biodiversity, there will be more wild areas, with the grass being left to grow and wild flowers sown. Hopefully, the tree pits planted by Wild Wanstead will take off now, after the drought last summer delayed bloom.

More is needed, though, if we are to really make Wanstead a cleaner, greener place.

It has been pointed out that while the public areas of Wanstead may be becoming more biodiverse, what of those under private ownership? There seems to be a race in some roads as to just how many gardens can be put under concrete. Concreting over gardens will counteract much of the good work being done in the public sphere.

These actions reduce the surface area for water to drain away, increasing pressure on the sewer system. Cumulatively, more concrete increases the flood risk for everyone. This was recently noted in a presentation from the Environment Agency about the need for a new flood prevention scheme for the River Roding.

A real challenge, moving forward, would be to reduce the number of gardens being concreted over and even go further, persuading more people to dig up their concrete and restore the gardens.

The community spirit that is so strong in Wanstead has been evident with the litter picks. A growing number of people seem keen to join. And local residents are always supportive when we are out picking up litter.

The work of transforming Wanstead into a cleaner, greener place has only just begun but is beginning to take shape. It is, however, dependent on people coming forward with ideas and taking part. New community gardens, planters, reducing plastic and saving energy. Individuals, local businesses, schools, faith and community groups all have a part to play. So, if you have an idea, let us know. There is a Facebook page, Wanstead Environmental Charter, and a website coming soon.

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