Strict new WHO-backed targets on air pollution adopted
Strict targets on air pollution have been adopted by Hackney Council as part of a new Air Quality Action Plan approved by its Cabinet last week.
The new plan will see the Council adopt World Health Organisation-backed guidelines on harmful particulate matter pollution - known to stunt lung growth in children and cause respiratory and cardiovascular problems among all groups - immediately, with it also committing to do everything in its control to comply with further WHO guidelines and Air Quality Objectives on particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide by 2030.
Schools, medical facilities and care homes will also be prioritised for further evaluation and measures to reduce air pollution - building on the Council’s recent expansion of School Streets to nearly all primary schools in the borough.
As part of the plan, the Council is investing in new real-time pollution monitors to supplement its existing network of diffusion monitors.
A consultation on the draft air quality action plan earlier this year resulted in 679 responses from local residents, with general net agreement shown towards the principles outlined in the draft plan.
In response to comments from residents in the consultation, the Council has made amendments to its draft plan, which include setting the 2030 milestone for compliance with WHO guidelines, and increasing enforcement and compliance with smoke control legislation.
In the Air Quality Action Plan, the Council also reiterates its commitment to working collaboratively with communities by engaging with them on air quality issues, and ensuring its air quality data is shared in a concise and understandable format.
Other changes as a result of the consultation include further alignment with the GLA’s recommendations on controlling emissions from development, and taking further action to tackle the negative impacts caused by engine idling.
In addition to action to tackle the pollution from road transport, which accounts for 64% of nitrogen dioxide emissions and 29% of particulate emissions, the plan outlines actions to tackle pollution from construction and fuel burning (wood burning stoves and commercial cooking).
The Council will also increase the number of low and no-emissions vehicles in its fleet from its current 66 electric vehicles.
It will call on Transport for London to expand the Ultra Low Emissions Zone to all of London after 2021, and lobby the Government to take action on the causes of pollution that are out of the Council’s control.
An estimated 7% of deaths among over 30s in Hackney can be attributed to particulate matter, which is why we’re among only a few councils in London that are adopting strict new World Health Organisation limits on this type of pollution.
This new Air Quality Action Plan sets out the tough action we need to take to rebuild a greener Hackney for all of our residents - reducing wood and coal burning, improving construction emissions, and reducing polluting traffic across our neighbourhoods - so we can all enjoy cleaner air, healthier lives and better neighbourhoods.