Gazette letters: Cycleways, climate change and Labour leader

Cycleways in London need to be connected. Picture: TfL

Cycleways in London need to be connected. Picture: TfL - Credit: Martin Breschinski

The mayor claims to have met his target of tripling protected space for cycling , writes Caroline Russell, London Assembly member, Londonwide.

But he has only been able to do so by counting lots of disconnected sections of cycleway and routes around entire junctions, including some as short as 100m.

Fudging numbers and data is an old trick we're used to seeing in election years, but the people actually using cycle lanes to take their daily journeys know there's a long, long road ahead before London really becomes a "byword for cycling".

Londoners deserve safe, properly protected bike lanes so anyone, aged eight to 80, can choose to go by bike to their local shops, to work, school or the park.

There's still far too much of London's street network that is hostile to people getting around on a bike.

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Plans for a third runway at Heathrow Airport have been ruled illegal by the Court of Appeal because government ministers did not adequately take into account the country's stated commitments to tackle the climate crisis, writes Paul Elliott, Islington Green Party.

Well, at least someone is taking the climate crisis seriously, although secretary of state Grant Shapps, spokesman for this "your cake and eat it" government clearly isn't.

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This is what he said in response to the decision: "Airport expansion is core to boosting global connectivity and levelling up across the UK.

"We also take seriously our commitment to the environment."

In other words, it is business as usual, while we pay lip service to the commitment to net zero carbon emissions by 2050, which thankfully is still far enough away to be someone else's responsibility.

Sorry, Grant. The judges are right. It is your responsibility right now. In terms of building major infrastructure, 2050 is just around the corner.

If the 2050 commitment means anything at all, it needs a coherent national plan, one that quantifiably demonstrates how carbon neutrality is to be achieved by the said date and how any new infrastructure investment will move us towards, not away from, that target.

This government and its predecessors have made much of the assertion that the UK leads the world in progress towards compliance with the Paris Agreement.

This may or may not be true, but, to the extent that it is, it is mainly due to the fact that recent governments have ridden on the back of a previous long-term decision to abandon coal (carbon) in favour of gas (hydrocarbon) fired power stations.

Efficiency savings and the transfer to hydrocarbons reduce, but do not eliminate carbon emissions.

The early easy gains are almost over.

For the next steps in the elimination of carbon emissions, we need a detailed plan with measurable, staged deliverables, not Micawberesque hopes that someone somewhere, probably in America or China, will invent something to capture carbon dioxide.

It's not as if the public would not be supportive of such a plan.

Evidence suggests that a majority of the British people is ready to take steps to reduce its carbon footprint, but it needs help from the government.

It needs support to manage down its energy consumption in the form of things like home insulation, electricity from non-carbon sources and radically improved public transport (not airports).

Many experts believe that 2050 is already too late for net zero carbon emissions to avoid catastrophic climate change, but, for the time being at least, that is our commitment.

The judges' ruling places a clear duty on our government to act accordingly.

When Jeremy Corbyn stood down from the leadership of the Labour Party he indicated that he would remain non-aligned in the present leadership election, and, that was a correct and equitable decision, writes Michael Cosh, Corinne Road, Tufnell Park.

However, Jeremy's less-than-subtle endorsement in recent weeks of Rebecca Long-Bailey is a serious error of judgement.

Rebecca has much to commend in her leadership bid, but, her campaign team will surely lament their condonation of Jeremy's involvement when the votes are eventually counted?

The council's answer to our local petition to save the seven important screening trees at Highbury Corner is a felling notice, writes Conor McHugh, Stop tree slaughter at Highbury Corner.

According to the notice, the trees will be killed next Monday (March 9), a rather unusual salute to the arrival of Spring.

In a way it is a simpler and more honest answer than the greenwash of their attempts to maintain that there is no other way of paying for the 27 (much needed) social and affordable homes at Dixon Clark Court.

The 14 private homes in the block could easily have been integrated into the rest of the estate.

They have been placed instead where they cause the death of these seven trees.

That's to boost their value for private sale. It's a simple model: the more the council practises social exclusion, the more money the flats will bring in.

In fact the private flats will bring in money no matter where they are placed on the estate.

Admittedly not as much as the council will achieve with this approach. But surely it is the difference between the two they should be looking to find (not an astronomical amount).

Have they even tried to find a sponsor who would put up the money to have their name on a unique urban mini-forest, alongside one of Britain's major national highways?

The council is going ahead with this major destruction of Islington's greenspace, despite the damage to its collective reputation. That damage will be magnified every day by the dominance at Highbury Corner of the new luxury block, which will forever be known as Treemageddon House.

This can only mean that there are other reasons behind their refusal to change. Is this in fact not about social housing but something that touches on personal gain? What one might most charitably refer to as a vanity project?

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