Air pollution and its health impacts have been much in the news, with the government being taken to court – again – for failing to meet European standards. But we know that many of the sources of air pollution, that kills people in our cities, are the same sources of carbon dioxide that cause climate change. So, we brought together key people to discuss what needs to be done: Alison Bell, the Council’s air quality officer; Oliver Hayes, Friends of the Earth’s clean air campaigner, and Joanne McCartney, GLA member for Haringey and Enfield. This is what we heard…..
New data shows that air pollution – both particulates (PM10 and PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) cause some 9,500 early deaths a year in London. In Haringey, particulates are within EU legal limits so are no longer routinely monitored, but NO2 regularly exceeds the limits. It is measured at a roadside location (639 High Road, Tottenham) which exceeds annual limit values, and a background location (Priory Park) which meets them.
The Council is looking at a number of hot-spots, where traffic is high, and has identified the major sources for each between taxi, car, bus, LGV and HGV. HGVs and buses are the biggest sources.
Road transport is responsible for 17% of CO2 emissions and domestic heating for another 50%. Reducing motor traffic, and encouraging a shift to electric vehicles (especially if electricity is increasingly generated from low carbon sources) will therefore cut CO2 emissions. Globally, measures to tackle air pollution would directly and indirectly save 0.6o warming.
What is being done across London?
a) Five Clean Air Zones declared, one of which is London, to meet NO2 standards by 2025
b) ULEZ will require single-decker buses to be electric or Hydrogen-powered; and double-deckers to be hybrids meeting Euro VI standards.
c) New mayor will revise Air Quality strategy.
d) In June a new Local Air Quality Management framework will be introduced, including a template for boroughs
What is being done in Haringey?
There are general policies to minimise traffic generation and encourage people to walk, cycle and use public transport; and to improve energy efficiency so reducing gas boiler emissions. In addition there are some specific air quality initiatives:
* Successful £203,000 bid for “No to NO2” programme including an air quality apprentice to run schools assemblies, installing Green Screens for schools in worst areas,
* a partnership with Islington & Hackney
* Pollution workshops for planners
* Smarter Travel plans for schools in hotspots, and for residents
* School walking zones in hot spots where many are driven to school
* 10-minutes walking zones for schools
* Air quality business engagement
* Cycle training and maintenance
* Working with GPs and pharmacies to raise awareness of vulnerable patients
* Working with North London Cluster group with Enfield, Barnet, Waltham Forest on eg dust control for major demolition and construction sites, with an SPG
* Low Emission Zone being extended to include construction plant
* Applying air quality conditions to planning permissions
* So, for example, Spurs will be required to monitor its dust emissions and report annually.
We discussed what more needs to be done:
1. Tackling the bus fleet is probably the single most important measure.
2. Extend the Ultra-Low Emission Zones, to include adjacent boroughs and to N and S Circular Roads.
3. Further measures to encourage people out of cars, to use public transport, walk or cycle – so more (clean) buses will be needed.
4. The new Mayor must work with government to speed up solutions.
5. More action on idling vehicles
6. Plough money into electric bus development (single-decker electric vehicles are now in mass production in China) buses – the first electric double-decker was unveiled this month.
7. Improve charging points with a universal plug system
8. Set a target date for ban on most polluting vehicles
9. Zero-emission (or highest Euro standards) taxis
10. Differential residents parking charges eg higher for diesels
11. The new Mayor must continue cycling programme and be brave enough to push “mini-Hollands” in outer suburbs.
12. Work with health bodies.
13. Issue smog alerts (the current Mayor refuses to do this).
14. Tighter control of delivery vehicles – and breaking down loads into smaller chunks so they can be delivered by electric vans.
What can we do locally?
We recognised that we needed more thought about how best to promote the overlapping climate/air pollution issue, but in the short term we identified:
* Ensuring that residents around regeneration and construction sites are informed about dust conditions and encouraged to report dust emissions.
* Encouraging schools to promote walk-to-school and tackle idling vehicles dropping off kids.
* Encouraging our GLA member (whoever wins the seat in May) to lobby for the solutions above.
* Supporting the Council in introducing cycling and walking schemes
Image: London Rooftops, by DncnH from Flickr.com