13 Oct 2019

Focus on trees that are fit for purpose

Opinion... Focus on trees that are fit for purpose (from Horticulture Week originally posted in green left facebook by Jon A. Meek)
4 October 2019, by Jeremy Barrell
Attending tree conferences around the world, the thrust is always the same — lots of spin showcasing project successes and creating a pervasive impression that everything is fine. But it’s not. Everywhere I look I see the natural environment in crisis. Industrial farming and fishing are degrading nature on a breathtaking scale, fuelled by visionless politicians oblivious to public opinion.
The scale of international climate protests demonstrates how far behind governments lag, and it’s the same for trees. It’s obvious that
high-quality trees are good for people, yet the politicians still cling to sound bites and shallow gestures focused on numbers instead of outcomes. I am heartened by the Government pledge of £10m for new urban trees, but it is not bold enough for the unfolding climate crisis. It is too little, too late.
Many nurseries continue to produce trees unfit for purpose and buyers continue to accept defective products, despite a British Standard (BS 8545) designed to stop the rot. It is encouraging that many new trees are being planted, but the lack of maintenance funding means few will reach their full potential. So the numbers game wheel keeps turning — low-quality trees, poorly planted, die after a few years and the cycle restarts. Politicians and nurseries win, the people lose, every time.
Although new planting creates a comfortable sense of progress, the real gains are in preventing the loss of existing trees to development. Established trees are already in place and delivering benefits right where they are needed most, close to people, so it is intelligent to work around the best ones. The planning mechanisms exist to do this, yet incompetent planners and local politicians consistently fail to deliver sustainable development.
We have the expertise, technology, and capacity to put this right, but the mindset is missing. Government must legislate based on outcomes, not numbers. There must be a focus on growing trees fit for purpose and planting them properly. All local planning authorities must have a written tree policy and dedicated tree officers to implement sustainable tree management.
The historic Government approach of passive persuasion isn’t working. Instead, we need political leadership to drive positive change — and legislation in the forthcoming environmental bill is the way to do it.
Jeremy Barrell is managing director of Barrell Tree Consultancy

11 Oct 2019

Support to the RMT in its protest against ticket office closure on London Overground stations,

As London and Brent  Green Party Trade Union liaison officer I would like to send our support to the RMT in its protest against ticket office closure on London Overground stations, ( and )

Just as with the campaign to retain and reinstate guards on trains, this is not just an issue of protecting jobs, but it is also a public welfare issue. Stations will become less safe, secure and accessible and it will probably become more difficult to purchase the correct tickets. Additionally, the reduction in station staffing discourages use of public transport, just at a time when it should be being encouraged, as an alternative to car use because of the need to combat climate change.

8 Oct 2019

GREENWASH? Here's how Brent scored on our climate-friendly test (according to FoE)

Here's how Brent scored on our climate-friendly test

Overall score: 72%

The Brent area’s performance on climate change is average compared to other local authority areas. All local authorities, even the best performing, need to do much more if climate catastrophe is to be averted. Brent particularly needs to do much better on increasing renewable energy, increasing tree cover, and increasing waste recycling.

Score breakdown


3% of Brent is woodland
The highest proportion in similar areas is 13%. Trees are great at removing carbon from the air around us. Doubling tree cover across the country would help reduce emissions.


68% of commuter journeys are made by public transport, cycling and walking
Brent should aim for 80% by 2030. We need fewer vehicles on the roads – they increase air pollution and are harmful to our health.


41% of Brent homes are well insulated
Poorly insulated homes cost more to run, which is inefficient and contributes to fuel poverty. Brent needs to ensure all homes are properly insulated by 2030.


37% of household waste is reused, recycled, or composted
When waste isn’t reused, recycled or composted, it may end up burnt, in landfill or even in our waterways and seas. Brent should aim for 70% by 2025 on the path to zero waste.

Renewable energy

Brent has 3 megawatts of renewable energy available
If the area matched the best of similar local council areas it would have 28 MW. We need 100% clean energy from the wind, sun and sea. Electricity can’t come from dirty fuels like coal, oil and gas anymore.