Fine words, it is said; butter no parsnips. If all the ringing endorsements of green cities uttered by policy-makers over the past ten years were put together, they would fill a library. But are cities getting greener? Almost certainly not.

A few months ago, after a gap of a decade or more, I revisited Camley Street ‘natural park’, a two-acre sliver of greenery in the heart of King’s Cross. Camley Street is one of the jewels of conservation in the capital, an old coal yard that was London’s first man-made site to become a local nature reserve. It’s a distinctive and much-prized place – last October ...


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