Charting the Charter

© Geoff Wilkinson© Geoff Wilkinson

In the first of a series of articles following the progress of Wanstead's environmental charter, Councillor Paul Donovan encourages us all to contribute to the success of this new initiative.

The latest report from the International Panel on Climate Change warns there are 12 years to save the world from the ravages of climate change. This means keeping warming levels at 1.5ºC or below.

There are 50,000 deaths in the UK every year due to pollution, some 9,500 in London alone. Humanity is effectively poisoning itself and everything else on the planet. Then there is the incredible loss of biodiversity over recent years, with 25% of mammals, 41% of amphibians and 13% of birds under threat. And it is these dramatic revelations that have, in part, led to the idea of creating an environmental charter for Wanstead. The idea was launched at a meeting held at Wanstead Library in October. The charter's focus is on climate change, pollution and loss of biodiversity. The plan is to focus on what can be done to improve these three areas, with cleaner journeys, more vegetation and less plastic, waste and litter and greener homes.

Cleaner journeys will mean more pedestrian travel, use of cycles and public transport. Better cycling routes, safer roads and non-polluting buses will all be contributory to this goal. The council are already looking at the possibility of vehicle exclusion areas around schools to reduce the pollution levels.

The increase in vegetation has already begun with the work of Wild Wanstead and the Wanstead Community Gardeners. The planting of tree pits in 40 roads earlier this year and beds around the town are evidence of a new, greener Wanstead beginning to appear. The charter will mean building on this with wild areas in places like Christchurch Green and George Green, creating green walls and hedgerow and tree planting. It is hoped more schools can take on green initiatives like the excellent edible playground now in place at Snaresbrook Primary. There will also be efforts to encourage people not to concrete over their gardens.

On litter and waste, we have already begun voluntary litter picks – the first was held on 17 November. But there will also be moves to make Wanstead as plastic-free as possible.

Finally, on greener homes, there will be moves to make things like solar panels and insulation more cheaply available to residents. People will be encouraged to think more holistically of the environment and the impact they are having on the world around them.

All of this will only be possible if people buy into the idea across the community. We will be looking for the council, schools, businesses, civil societies and individuals to all sign up to do something to contribute to delivering the charter. If we all pull together, then a cleaner, greener and better Wanstead can be achieved. And maybe more importantly, we will be doing our bit to save the planet on which we all depend for survival.

For more information on the charter and to get involved, email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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