The Environment. Not just a nice word for University professors with funny beards and elbow patches, but an entire ecosystem that keeps us all alive. One would think then, that it would be foolish to mess with it, and luckily we have environmentally concerned figures like Mayor Ken making sure our land grabbing developers don't go messing everything up.
Not so according to a new report from the London Assembly's Environment Committee, entitled Dash For Homes. The accusation is that in an attempt to meet new housing requirements, along with parking spaces for all those highly taxable 4x4's that seem to be so popular these days, Ken is bypassing his own requirements for environmentally acceptable housing: energy, water use, flooding, waste, loss of open or green space as well as plants and animals. Darren Johnson AM, Chair of the London Assembly’s Environment Committee is quoted as saying:
We welcome improvements made so far to integrate environmental concerns into the planning process and understand the difficulties Livingstone faces in balancing his priorities. However, his decision-making process is far from transparent.
Oh Ken, not you too...
So what's the problem? We need houses right, why not build them? Well London is already one of the EU’s most densely settled areas at almost 4,700 people per square kilometer (an area the size of ten Trafalgar Squares) and it's not getting any less crowded. With every new body we take in, we need all the support structures to keep them which boils down to more concrete, less green, and that's not really a good thing. This year we're already on the first of no doubt many hose pipe bans. Water that used to seep through the land into the water tables is instead draining off concrete into a sewer system that can't keep pace. And that's not to mention over-crowding, social problems, sub-standard standards of living, loss of wildlife etc etc. Life may be great if you can afford it but we don't seem to be that good at looking after what we do have, let alone trying to cram even more in.
Do we need to wait until we have to slot ourselves into rooms, Tokyo style, before we realise enough is enough or will we ever find the balance between the rampant desires of progress and a city that remembers what it's like to be able to walk on grass? Who knows, Ken decides. In the meantime, we look forward to his reply, hope he doesn't refer to anyone as Mongolian farmers or something and if all else fails, there's always Moleman.