Latest air pollution levels and EU limits

Statement from Ruth Duston, OBE, OC

Chief Executive of Northbank BID

An article in Air Quality News on 31 August, titled The Strand first London location to breach NO2 limits in 2019, stated that the Strand was London’s first location to breack NO2 limits in 2019. This is disappointing but not entirely surprising news.

The Northbank area is one of the most congested traffic spots in the capital, with poor air quality, and this has led to the Northbank Business Improvement District (BID) being at the forefront of work in recent years to address the challenge. Normally these limits are exceeded much earlier in the year, so perhaps there is some solace in the fact it has taken until mid-summer to breach the limits.

Northbank is one of the capital’s first Business Low Emission Neighbourhoods (BLEN), supported by the Mayor of London and since the BID was established we have been working closely with public and private sector partners and developed a number of programmes to both lower air pollution and encourage behaviour change so that people can make healthier choices.

Together with Westminster City Council and local businesses, the BLEN street interventions are providing greener zones and cleaner, more inviting walking and cycling routes for the 30m people who visit the area annually. We work closely with public sector partners to take the worst polluting vehicles off the roads. The recently launched ULEZ will undoubtedly make a big positive difference, not least in relation to the introduction of low emission buses.

However, while it’s important to recognise the progress being made across London to tackle air pollution, we must not be complacent and a long term plan is needed and a new collaborative approach is required. We all have a role to play in addressing air pollution – small changes in behaviour can make a big difference. One of our recent studies done in collaboration with King’s College London showed that by taking a quieter, greener route on their commute Londoners can reduce exposure to pollution by 47%. Also, opting for Click&Collect rather than having parcels delivered at work could reduce central London traffic – and resulting air pollution – by at least 10%.