Environment Minister Hilary Benn visited a pioneering eco-friendly housing estate in Lambeth on Monday to hear first hand how local people are working with the council to tackle climate change.
In the week that world leaders meet in Copenhagen to hammer out a deal on climate change, the minister was keen to stress that the efforts of local communities like those in Lambeth are just as important in helping to reduce CO2.
The minister visited the Ethelred Estate in Kennington to see one of the estate’s green roofs which are surfaced with sedum plants.
The green roof provides habitat for wildlife, improves air quality and absorbs rain water, so has a role to play in reducing urban flooding. The Ethelred Estate is the UK’s largest green roof renewal project, and covers 10 buildings with more than 4,000 square meters of roof space covered in sedum plants. The council secured special government funding for the project which cost £716,000 and has completed further green roofs in nearby Stockwell and a ‘biodiverse brown roof’ in Clapham.
The Ethelred roof project was a partnership between Lambeth Council and the Ethelred Tenant Management Organisation (TMO). Mr Benn met David Girdler, the Chair of the TMO, Councillor Lib Peck, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Housing on Lambeth Council, as well as the council’s Environment Manager Jon Lissimore, local ward councillors and residents.
The green roof uses a type of sedum grass instead of traditional flat roof surfacing and attracts wildlife such as birds and insects.
Mr Benn was also made an honorary Lambeth ‘Green Champion’. The council’s Green Champions scheme is seeing hundreds of volunteers across the borough trained by the council in sustainability issues, so they can help and inspire their neighbourhoods to be more environmentally sustainable.
Hilary Benn said: “We are all going to have to do some things differently if we are to tackle climate change. Councilllor Lib Peck and the Ethelred TMO are showing us how. The green roofs they have put on their estate will improve air quality, increase birds, bees and local wildlife, add to the insulation of the top floor flats and help protect from water runoff in stormy weather. Climate change is the biggest challenge facing the world today and through the design of buildings like these in Lambeth the council is showing how it can help to protect residents.”
Councillor Lib Peck, Cabinet member for Housing and Regeneration on Lambeth Council, said: “It was great to meet the Minister and he was clearly impressed at the project and the commitment of local people to sustainability. We talked to him about getting more resources to do this work on other Lambeth housing estates and we pressed upon him the importance of putting sustainability at the heart of local authorities’ planning and construction policies.
“The Ethelred Estate green roof is just one example of how Lambeth is putting climate change at the forefront of everything it does.
“The new Michael Tippett School is one of the most sustainably built in the country, we’ve introduced emissions-based parking charges to discourage high-emissions vehicles, and supported the growth of car clubs so that membership now stands at over 6,000.”