Wildlife charity says easier and cheaper ways to promote wildlife

A leading wildlife charity has pulled its support for Thomas Heatherwick’s Garden Bridge in London, saying its £175 million cost would be better spent on other wildlife projects.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds had initially backed the idea but in a statement put out just before Christmas the group said it could now no longer support the plans.

“From a conservation point of view, the bridge adds little and damages little, so the RSPB had cautiously supported the initial concept,” the charity said.

“Water capture and storage as part of a wider drainage initiative would have been a bonus. Better still, it could link existing wildlife spots north and south of the river, but that’s not currently part of the plans. Londoners will not be gaining a new, wildlife rich habitat and, consequently, the bridge will not gain RSPB backing.”


Heatherwick Studio and Arup's garden bridge

The RSPB says the £175 million cost of the bridge would be better spent on other initiatives


It said the cost would be better spent on other ways to protect disappearing wildlife and promote environmental initiatives.

“As supporters of green infrastructure in London, the RSPB can suggest much easier and cheaper ways to make life more pleasant for Londoners and urban wildlife. £175 million could do a lot to boost the way we manage water and waste or generate energy in the capital in ways that would clean our environment and better support some of the 60% of species currently vanishing around us.

“Indeed, Londoners can collectively add to the capital’s habitats and support much more wildlife than this £175 million bridge ever could.”

The bridge was approved by the mayor of London’s office at the end of last year. The two local planning authorities involved had previously OK’d the 366m bridge from the South Bank to Temple Tube station.

Mayor Boris Johnson said: “The garden bridge will provide a fantastic new landmark for London whilst supporting regeneration and economic growth on both sides of the Thames. It will create a stunning oasis of tranquillity in the heart of our city and boost our plans to encourage walking in the city.”

Transport for London and the Treasury have both committed £30 million each to the scheme. The rest of the cost will need to be privately fundraised.