Environment and public health chiefs have made a raft of recommendations to tackle air pollution in London, including new local measures to reduce car use.
In advance of car free day on Sunday, the London Councils Environment Directors' Network and the Association of Directors of Public Health have adopted a joint position on ‘cleaning up London’s air’.
The two groups said it is the first time environment and public health chiefs have joined forces in this way.
The report was endorsed by London Councils Transport Environment Committee last week.
It sets out the causes and impacts on poor air quality, contains case studies of what councils are doing about it, and lays out a set of recommendations to the GLA and government on funding and powers to allow councils to better tackle the problem.
The position statement sets out ‘how we believe we should be responding to this challenge, based on our expertise and the available evidence'.
1. Advocating for at least 2.5% of UK annual GDP to be spent on tackling climate change and air quality in the UK
2. Protecting children from exposure to poor air quality by:
- Implementing the Healthy Streets Approach to facilitate walking, cycling and public transport use and to discourage car use;
- Taking action to mitigate pollution hotspots, particularly those around schools, including taking air quality into account when designing and refurbishing schools and providing green infrastructure barriers where appropriate; and
- Protecting vulnerable populations including children, older people and those with heart and lung disease, by providing information about less polluted routes and alerts and advice on what to do on high pollution days.
3. Supporting a shared narrative on air quality and public health impacts across London that will change the public’s perception around their own contribution to cleaning our air – including the overall benefits of physical activity to most people;
4. Restricting driving across the city, introducing scrappage schemes and local schemes such as restricted and emissions-based parking, low emissions zones and building better walking and cycling infrastructure;
5. Using public sector procurement and social value action to reduce contributions to air pollution, in particular by moving faster towards ultra-low and zero emissions vehicle fleets; and
6. Speaking with one voice as boroughs to secure the resources and powers needed to reduce air pollution and protect the health of residents.
The document notes that road transport is the most significant source of emissions in London, with 20% of London’s primary schools in areas that breach the legal limit for NO2.
In terms of ways of addressing the issue, the report states: ‘The evidence shows that restricting emission of pollutants at source is the most effective means of improving air quality. We therefore support policies and programmes that can do this.’
It adds: ‘Where we can encourage residents to embrace active travel by walking and cycling and use of public transport instead of driving this will also bring the added benefit of increased physical activity to overall health and wellbeing.’