There was overwhelming support for the establishment of an environmental charter for Wanstead aimed at tackling climate change, loss of biodiversity and pollution.

Some 90 people attended the Labour Party organised public meeting at Wanstead library to hear speakers press the urgency of a situation that sees 50,000 people a year dying due to pollution in the UK, the loss of species and time running out to reverse climate change.

Susie Knox of Wild Wanstead outlined charter proposals that called on the council, local businesses, schools, civil society and individuals to all play a part in creating a more sustainable environment in Wanstead.

“Cleaner journeys, more vegetation, less plastics and waste and greener homes must all form part of the charter,” said Ms Knox.

Actions suggested included cutting plastic use on the high street, installing solar panels, planting seeds, wild area and hedgerows to encourage wild life.

I called on the community spirit in Wanstead to make the environmental charter happen. One of the problems that has helped create the crisis has been our throwaway society. The consumer led world – use it bin it, throw it out the window. Drive, fly, who cares? People hide behind their doors, rather than come out and act in community. We need to establish that reconnect. Wanstead is a place where that can be done. We have seen excellent community initiatives already, involving the Wild Wanstead-led tree pit planting and the community gardening. The great community spirit was recently evident at the Wanstead Fringe and Festivals. The support already shown for the charter that night was a great start.

Cabinet member for Civic Pride John Howard told of the advance in the pipeline on cycling and encouraging walking and using public transport in the area. He also encouraged people to get electric cars, which will not need a parking permit.

“I am open to ideas,” said John, who highlighted the moves to make the whole of Wanstead come under 20mph speed limits.

The question of the increasing number of dropped kerbs and concreting over of front and back gardens was raised.

Gill James called on the council to stop dropped kerbs and incentivise people to keep their front gardens.

Others challenged the council to follow neighbouring Newham council and ban dropped kerbs altogether.

I highlighted an Environment Agency presentation last week calling for funding for a River Roding flood defence plan.

One of the pressures on rivers like the Roding come from the increasing concreting over of green areas. Many people even living next to rivers don’t understand that by removing the green surface for water to run away it increases pressure on rivers, thereby increasing the likelihood of flooding.

Labour MP John Cryer called for a cheaper, more accessible railway. He also lamented the failure of the Civil Aviation Authority to even acknowledge they had received a petition from local residents complaining about the redirection of flights over Leytonstone and Wanstead. He pledged to continue this fight against air and noise pollution in the area.

The environmental charter received substantial backing from the meeting and will now move to wider participation, with the organisers keen to engage with local businesses, schools, the council and others as to how we can all come together for the common good of the planet.

  • Paul Donovan is a Redbridge councillor for Wanstead village and blogger.