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London's garden bridge considers a greener option

Last modified: 14 April 2015

Garden Bridge

Artists impression of the proposed garden bridge

Image: Thomas Heatherwick/Arup Depiction

Over the last few months much has been made in the press about the proposals for a Garden Bridge in London.

The RSPB is well known in London and across the rest of the UK for offering advice on wildlife gardening and conservation.  So it’s not surprising we have repeatedly been asked for our opinion on the creation of this bridge and we have offered thoughts. Reading media reports it’s hard for readers to understand our views fully, so we would like to lay out our position in more detail than a short sound-bite can provide.


Firstly it’s important to point out that we have neither provided support for the bridge, nor withdrawn support for it (as we had not given support in the first place).


We have expressed concerns that opportunities for biodiversity gain could be missed or not optimised, but articles suggesting that we ‘condemn’ the project are inaccurate.


The cost of the bridge is considerable and a similar level of funding directed at giving nature a home in London, or elsewhere, could undoubtedly have a very significant impact. However, the bridge is not claiming to solve the problems facing London’s biodiversity. As such, the public funding that has been earmarked for the bridge would have been very unlikely to have been directed towards supporting biodiversity elsewhere. For this reason we are effectively neutral over the proposal. We would of course, always call on the government, the Greater London Authority and others to make sure any new development or infrastructure projects take into account biodiversity as strongly as possible and look for ways to take account of nature in any decision making process.


If the bridge goes ahead as currently planned we would be keen that it is made to work as hard for nature as it possibly can and one of the ways it could do this is by creating a strong physical connection between the south and north bank of the Thames for wildlife,  particularly pollinating insects.


The RSPB is part of a broad partnership of organisations currently working on a project called Making a B-Line for London. Representatives from the RSPB and the B-Line partnership recently met with the Garden Bridge Trust to discuss ways in which the proposed bridge might work harder for pollinators. Initial discussions were positive and we would be keen to continue this discussion if the proposals get the go ahead.

How you can help

Nature in the UK is in trouble and some of our more familiar garden species are amongst those suffering serious declines. We can all help by giving nature a home where we live.

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