Mayor offers £1 million green grants to improve air quality

30 August 2017

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan today visited the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, in Richmond, as he encouraged community groups to apply for his £1 million Greener City Fund to help deliver more air quality improving trees, plants and green play areas in every neighbourhood.

Trees and plants play an essential part in reducing London’s dangerously polluted air, as well as being a vital part of our landscape. The Mayor wants to protect London’s Green Belt and help make the capital the world’s first National Park City. His £1 million Greener City community fund is part of his wider £9 million funding to help schools, boroughs and local groups improve their local environments.

Grants of between £5,000 and £50,000 are available for groups to apply for now and details are on the website www.london.gov.uk. Grants 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.

The Mayor today met Kew Gardens horticultural students and scientists to hear more about Kew’s world class research that is helping the environment and improving Londoners’ health.

Kew 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 of London, Sadiq Khan, 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.”

Richard Deverell, Director of Royal Botanic Gardens Kew 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. Kew’s Grow Wild project has for many years encouraged people around the UK to turn grey into green, pink and yellow by planting wildflowers, bringing benefits to their communities in the process. We applaud any efforts to get more people into this kind of activity so the future is more secure for everyone.”

As part of his plans to make more than 50 per cent of London green by 2050, the Mayor wants to help fund thousands more trees and improvements to community green spaces, and help London’s boroughs invest in our much-loved parks, playing fields and woodland.

Earlier this month the Mayor launched his draft London Environment Strategy which set out his plans to make London the first National Park City. The Mayor aims to launch London as a National Park City at an international summit in Spring 2019 and 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 will publish a natural capital account for London later this year to highlight the economic value of London’s green infrastructure.

Notes to editors

1. Community grants of between £5,000 - £50,000 are available for groups to apply for now. Details are available at www.london.gov.uk and the deadline for applications is September 29th.

2. The Mayor’s draft Environment Strategy consultation is available to view on www.london.gov.uk/environment and runs until November 17th.

3. To help achieve his ambition for London to become a National Park City, the Mayor plans to:

  • Create a ‘Challenge Map’ to highlight areas of London that should be priorities for green infrastructure investment as part of the Mayor’s target to make more than 50 per cent of London green by 2050
  • Set up a Green Spaces Commission to work with environmental experts to help boroughs attract investment, and transform and preserve their parks and green spaces
  • Developing a new ‘Urban Greening Factor’ to ensure that green roofs, green walls – walls which are covered in plants and grass often by busy road sides and help lower pollution, trees and rain gardens are incorporated into new developments in London. The Mayor will also use his planning powers to protect our Green Belt and Metropolitan Open Land
  • Targeting ‘grey’ areas to make them greener. With more Londoners living in flats and working in high rise offices, and with fewer people having access to private gardens, the Mayor wants to ensure more streets and public spaces become greener to improve health and encourage more walking and cycling.