Green city champion

Amid growing concern over London’s illegal air pollution levels, an assault on its green belt and an escalating housing crisis, Labour politician Leonie Cooper speaks to Chris Seekings about environmental threats facing the capital.

green city

As chair of the London Assembly Environment Committee, Leonie Cooper is charged with ensuring mayor Sadiq Khan does not lose sight of the important environmental challenges facing the city amid Brexit uncertainty. She is actively shaping the capital’s environmental agenda, providing many of the recommendations in the 2017 draft London Environment Strategy, with a final version due this year.

After hearing Cooper give a speech at her offices in City Hall, I catch up with the influential politician for a discussion about the environmental issues facing London, hoping to gain an insight into how these challenges are being tackled.

She starts off by expressing pride at seeing her proposals included in the strategy, particularly those to increase biodiversity through expansion of green spaces. However, with approximately 47% of London already classified as a green space, I ask why this is such an important issue to her? “Well, a number of green spaces have been left fallow for many years, and a lot of the space is private,” she explains. “There is no point having ‘green jewels’ that have a lot of money put into them, like Richmond or Hyde Park, if other spaces are left to deteriorate.”

The mayor wants London ...

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