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General Election 2019: Brent Central's Green Party candidate slams council's climate emergency declaration as a 'PR stunt'

PUBLISHED: 13:08 22 November 2019

William Relton is the Green Party's parliamentary candidate for Brent Central.

William Relton is the Green Party's parliamentary candidate for Brent Central.

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Brent's climate emergency declaration is nothing more than a "public relations stunt", according to a parliamentary candidate.

William Relton, who is standing for the Green Party in Brent Central, has slammed council plans to chop down healthy trees in the borough.

Plans have been put on hold this week to chop down trees in Furness Road, Harlesden, after a campaign by residents, while big oaks are being replaced with saplings in Willesden and notices are up in Kenton.

The council has a £20million budget to repair footways which in many areas involve the uprooting of mature and healthy trees.

Brent Council launched its "climate emergency" declaration in July promising to aim for carbon neutrality by 2030.

Figures from Friends of the Earth showed only three per cent of Brent is woodland and there is a severe lack of trees.

Mr Relton said: "Quite why this is happening so soon after The Climate Emergency Declaration was made is quite staggering.

"The CED must be more than a public relations stunt. It will only have credibility if residents can see that it affects Brent Council's every environmental action."

He is supporting Mapesbury Road neighbours who are fighting plans to have their conservation area pavements replaced with asphalt which Mr Relton says has a "detrimental environmental impact".

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He also backs locals in Harlesden who are trying to protect eight trees in Furness Road, five of which line the pavement outside Furness Primary School.

Mr Relton added: "I responded in the comments section of the climate emergency declaration specifically about Brent needing to implement a large scale tree planting programme, and this removal of healthy trees seems to be completely at odds with its own policy."

He called on the council to view their actions "through the lens" of the declaration.

The council said they are on target to "double the number of new trees planted" by 2022 which requires them to plant "at least 520 new trees per year."

But locals say mature trees offset more carbon and must not be destroyed.

Nick West, who helped save trees in Connought Road, said: "Residents are fighting this battle all over the borough. We understand the council has budgetary issues but getting rid of the trees is vandalism. It degrades our environment for years because the replacement trees are mere saplings."

A council spokesperson said: "Whenever we decide we must remove a tree as part of these works, it's always a case of one out, one in, so there is no net loss.

"We are very mindful of air quality and climate change considerations and the council is committed to a much wider programme of planting new trees all over Brent.

"There's a balance to be struck. As the local highways authority, we do have a duty to provide safe footways for our residents, particularly for the elderly and for those with mobility issues."

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