Earlier this month, we agreed our priorities as a council for the next four years to create a greener, fairer, safer borough. We are firmly committed to delivering a greener future by tackling the climate crisis and preserving our natural environment.

We want to lead the way and demonstrate how a London borough can provide an environment where both people and wildlife can flourish, contributing to the overall health of our planet.

We’ve got big plans as a council, but we cannot tackle climate change alone. As we work more and more closely with Kingston’s many wonderful green-minded communities, I’ve been struck by the bottom up action that’s making a big difference.

There are so many innovative and exciting green initiatives from our residents and local groups. Last month, Kingston Library opened its doors to local group Transition Town Kingston and their first ever Repair Café. The café helps give residents the practical skills they need to give items a new lease of life while saving them money, preventing waste and carbon emissions. I’m delighted to say it was a great success! If you’ve got something that needs some TLC, you can take it along to the Repair Café on the first Saturday of each month.

We’ve also been working with the Kingston and Richmond Youth Council to provide support to their Climate Youth Fund, which aims to inspire our younger residents to develop projects and ideas that will help to tackle climate change and protect the environment. Keep an eye out for news on the projects as they are brought to life.

Together with local businesses and community groups we’re planning for Kingston’s first ever Efficient Homes Show. Residents will be able to find out about the technology and services that could make their homes cosier and cheaper to run while also tackling climate change. More on that as plans progress.

As well as empowering and supporting our wonderful communities, we are also playing our part by working toward our goal of being a carbon neutral council by 2030. We’re decarbonising the council’s fleet and replacing the borough’s ageing street lighting with modern LEDs which use much less electricity and are cheaper to run.

We are nearing the end of our most recent round of winter tree planting, which will see 500 new trees planted across the borough, creating new habitats for some of the many species that also call Kingston home. When matured, they will also provide shade during warmer weather and reduce the impact of heavy rainfall which is likely to become more frequent due to climate change.

We are proud to have achieved a nearly 80% reduction in herbicide use across the borough, helping our green spaces to flourish, a success applauded by Pesticide Action Network UK. And work to protect the borough's biodiversity will continue to go from strength to strength through the delivery of our first ever Biodiversity Action Plan which was announced recently.

As we continue to face the challenges posed by climate change, it is essential we work together to protect not only our borough, but our planet. We are committed to playing our part, that’s why creating a greener future is central to our plans as we work hard to reduce our carbon footprint and protect the natural environment. Together we can make a real difference in Kingston and beyond.