Environmental destruction in The Royal Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames - Is it lawful?
Updated: Aug 11, 2020
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Planned growth across London in the soon-to-be-published new London Plan relies on each London Borough implementing measures laid out in The Mayor’s Transport Strategy (the “MTS”) to provide sufficient public transport for the local population whilst reducing car traffic and air pollution in its area
Each London Borough is legally required to conduct an environmental assessment “during the preparation” of its transport strategy for the Borough that informs that strategy in the context of planned population and jobs growth in the local authority area to 2041. It is also a legal requirement that both documents are published “as soon as practicable” after approval together with a report that shows how environmental considerations have been "integrated" into the strategy, and how opinions expressed as a result of the consultation have been taken into into account
This is obviously incredibly important in areas across London such as Kingston which are facing plans for large-scale development of housing and employment premises which will require huge investment in transport infrastructure and which must by necessity have a significant impact on the environment and biodiversity as well as on human health
But you would not think so based on the approach taken by Kingston council
Kingston council had not conducted any environmental assessment when it approved its transport strategy in February 2019. The council only carried out an environmental assessment and consulted upon it in June 2019 after it had been made aware of the statutory breach, but it nevertheless decided to uphold its original decision to approve the transport strategy without any environmental assessment
The council’s approach rendered irrelevant the environmental assessment and the responses to the consultation on it that later happened because the council had already decided that it was not prepared to make any meaningful changes to the strategy or to consider environmental and biodiversity impacts that would have required the strategy to have been resubmitted for approval with greater scrutiny
Kingston council, perhaps unsurprisingly, has never published the required post-adoption report or the accompanying environmental assessment, despite this also being a statutory requirement. Indeed, the council has told me – in August 2020 - that it cannot find a post-adoption statement for its transport strategy. It should be noted that Transport for London approved Kingston's transport strategy on 3 July 2019 after Kingston council submitted it for approval on 1 July 2019, the next business day after the consultation of the environmental assessment closed
But why does any of this really matter?
If Kingston’s transport strategy to 2041 has not been prepared properly, if it does not lay out a clear plan to deliver the transport infrastructure that is required to meet the demands of large-scale planned growth, and if it does not take into account the possible environmental and biodiversity impacts - and the impact on the nature and character of the Borough - of delivering or failing to deliver the transport infrastructure needed to address planned growth, how can the Mayor of London assert - and the Inspectors of the London Plan agree - with any confidence that the measures in the MTS will support planned growth, reduce levels of pollution and its effect on people’s health, have a positive impact on nature and biodiversity and support sustainable development in Kingston and beyond?
 https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2004/1633/regulation/5/made Sections 5,12, 13 and 16
 designated as an “opportunity area” for massive growth