As a member of the City’s Port Health and Environmental Services Committee I am focussing on improving air quality in the Square Mile.
In the 1950s the City of London led the way with the promotion of a Clean Air Act in response to the ‘Great Smog’ in 1952. And together with the Mayor of London we are leading the way again. The City is committed to turning parts of the Square Mile into a zero-emissions zone by 2022.
These are much-needed steps in the right direction. FT’s Simon Kuper reported in October 2018 that air pollution contributes to more than 9,000 premature deaths in London each year. Beijing and New Delhi were worse on particulate pollution, but in terms of harmful nitrogen dioxide London was nearly as bad as the Chinese and Indian capitals, and much worse than other developed cities such as New York or Madrid.
Annual figures for 2018 show air quality in the City of London is slowly improving, but more action needs to be taken – this is why the Corporation is supporting the Mayor of London’s air quality strategy and we have set an target to reach WHO NO2 guideline limits by 2025.
“Since the 1954 Clean Air Act removed the most visible forms of air pollution and cleared the city’s famous smog, Londoners have not worried enough about air quality. Nitrogen dioxide, which inflames lungs and is linked to shorter life expectancy, has become a major problem. The capital missed binding EU limits on air quality that came into force in 2010, largely due to diesel vehicles — which, it later emerged, emitted higher levels of pollutants in the real world than in tests. Congestion, which has pushed average traffic speed down to 8mph, compounds the problem. Add in the City of London’s narrow streets and tall buildings, and two of the capital’s five hotspots for excessive nitrogen levels lie within it.” – Financial Times, 18 October 2018
Work is underway with London Councils to develop proposals for a Private Member’s Bill to control air pollution from combustion plant (boilers, generators, combined heat and power plant)
The City is also supporting ‘idling engine action days’ achieving a noticeable decrease in the number of vehicles parked with engines idling. In addition, Low Emission Neighbourhood work, match funded by the Mayor of London, has started with:
- Preparation for an ultra-low emission vehicle access restriction in Moor Lane
- 30 electric vehicle charge points installed in Barbican Estates car parks
- Air quality workshops for City businesses
In addition, the Corporation is looking at introducing cleaner vehicles across it’s entire fleet and I’m pushing for us to be more ambitious in installing electric vehicle charging points across the Square Mile.
In 2018 the City launched a high-profile campaign to reduce the use of single use plastics in the City was. The focus has been on increasing drinking water refill points across the City and discouraging use of single use plastics. One of the first water refill points will be installed on Cheapside.