5 February 2018
A plan to improve air quality by cracking down further on car engine idling, planting more trees, introducing School Streets and Pedestrian Days and many more ideas has been published by Waltham Forest Council.
In London, 9,400 people die from illnesses related to air quality every year. Waltham Forest’s Air Quality Action Plan includes 38 actions that aim to improve the quality of the air residents breathe every day. As part of the plan, the council has commissioned internationally recognised experts from King’s College London’s Environmental Research Group to conduct research on several air quality topics including the impact of the traditional car-based school run, residents’ and businesses’ levels of awareness about air quality, the effects of exposure to polluted air and the benefits of measures being introduced to encourage more walking and cycling in the borough.
The plan also includes proposals to increase the number of electric vehicles the council uses and the number of charging points available across the borough, and encourages Play Streets days for children to enjoy playing in clean, non-polluted air.
Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for the Environment Cllr Clyde Loakes attended an anti-idling action day outside Edinburgh Primary School in Walthamstow to help spread the anti-idling message among parents and learn more about the issues from Neighbourhoods officers.
Cllr Loakes said: “It is so important that we as a council do everything in our power to improve the quality of air we all breathe. That is why we hold anti-idling operations regularly outside our schools, to educate parents about the impact that their idling cars can have on the developing lungs of their own children - our youngest residents.
“It’s not just about enforcement. We have been improving pavement and road designs for pedestrians and cyclists so they have extra space – our priority is making sustainable transport as safe as possible for all to enjoy. We are also taking the opportunity to plant an extra 1,200 trees in the borough, so that by the end of March we will have more than 50,000 trees helping to improve our air quality - the most trees we have had in the borough’s history!
“This unique opportunity to work with King’s College London will help better inform the task ahead of us and help us evaluate the impact of the vital infrastructure work we have been pioneering in London over recent years.”
King’s College London will be working with the council to analyse the health benefits of changes made to the borough’s streets where rat-run usage has been greatly reduced, and where improved pedestrian and cycle facilities and infrastructure has been constructed or is proposed.
Dr Sean Beevers from the Environmental Research Group at King’s College London said: “We are looking forward to working with Waltham Forest to assess the potential health benefits of increased walking and cycling in the borough, alongside the borough’s initiatives to improve air quality for their residents.”
As well as commenting on the council’s action plan, residents are being encouraged to respond to Transport for London’s (TfL) consultation on the expansion of the Ultra Lower Emission Zone up to the North Circular Road by 2021, which closes at the end of this month.
For further details about Waltham Forest Council’s Air Quality Action Plan visit bit.ly/WFAirQuality
To give your views on TfL’s ULEZ consultation visit https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/