Join us in the fight to tackle London’s toxic air

Join us in the fight to tackle pollution this Clean Air Day. 

Cllr Jon Burke, Cabinet Member for Energy, Waste, Transport and Public Realm
Today marks Clean Air Day, a nationwide campaign to encourage people to take simple steps to improve air quality.

Whether that’s walking or cycling instead of taking the car or ensuring homes are energy efficient, there’s a lot people can do to reduce their impact on air quality.

Tackling the capital’s toxic air, which contributes to over 10,000 premature deaths in London every year, is also one of the Council’s top priorities, and I’m proud it now sits alongside our fight against global warming in my Cabinet portfolio.

In Hackney, we’re already one of London’s leading councils for tackling poor air quality, with one of the largest air quality monitoring networks, one of the cleanest fleets, an ever-expanding School Streets programme, our ground-breaking Ultra Low Emissions Streets, over 40 Play Streets, a network of over 50 electric charging points and our pioneering Zero Emissions Network, which helps residents and businesses reduce their emissions.

But we’re not complacent and know we need to do even more to tackle the capital’s toxic air.

This summer, we’re launching engagement with local residents and businesses in Stoke Newington and Hackney Central on ideas to tackle air quality and reduce traffic in two of the borough’s town centres.

In Hackney Central, we’ve been awarded almost £10m from Transport for London to improve road safety at its three dangerous junctions - Pembury Circus, Mare Street/Graham Road and Mare Street/Morning Lane - and reduce traffic and improve air quality on Amhurst Road.

Before we consult on specific proposals, we want to engage with local people, and hear about their experiences of walking, cycling and accessing public transport in the area, to make sure this fantastic opportunity to improve the Hackney Central area incorporates as many views as possible.

In Stoke Newington, we’ve been awarded £500k from the Mayor of London’s Air Quality Fund to reduce polluting traffic on Stoke Newington Church Street and promote walking, cycling and electric vehicles.

We’re going to be holding drop-in stalls in Stoke Newington next month to get an idea from local residents of what they’d like to see in the area before we consult on firm proposals.

I want local people to know that we won’t rest in our fight to tackle London’s toxic air. But we also want local people’s help.

While Hackney residents already do a lot - Hackney has a higher cycling rate than any other borough in London, and car ownership is low - a third of the capital’s car journeys are under two miles. This - including the school-run - needs to stop. Walking and cycling instead reduces pollution and helps people get fitter.

Emissions from household gas boilers are also a key contributor to poor air quality, so making homes more efficient is an important way residents can tackle pollution; and I’m delighted to say that the Council will soon announce an exciting new programme for how we intend to work with residents on this issue.

Eliminating the burning of solid fuel in wood burners is key too, as these, open hearths and charcoal grills create an additional source of severe air pollution, often during some of the most polluted periods of the year. We’ve recently secured £90K of funding from Defra to tackle this issue across the whole borough through our Zero Emissions Network.

Shopping locally also reduces the need for polluting deliveries, and if people have ordered online, getting them delivered to pick-up points reduces the trips delivery drivers need to make.

We’ve got more radical action planned to tackle poor air quality - including rolling out green screens to primary schools, launching a public cargo bike hire scheme, and radically expanding our tree planting programme - because we’re determined to tackle the public health crisis of our generation. If residents also take simple steps to improve air quality, together we can tackle London’s toxic air. Watch this space for more announcements!
Cllr Jon Burke, Cabinet Member for Energy, Waste, Transport and Public Realm

To find out more about what the Council is doing to tackle poor air quality, and what residents and businesses can do, visit: www.hackney.gov.uk/air-quality.