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Council statement on air emissions

We know that London and in particular east London is home to some of the most polluted areas in the country and is primarily a result of vehicle emissions. This is unacceptable and poses not only an environmental threat but a huge and very serious risk to public health.



The Council monitor for PM10 and has not registered levels above the legal limit until 2014. These high emission were only recorded at our Billet Street roundabout monitoring station. This was likely due to increased dust emissions in the area caused by developments not doing enough to control dust and emissions from their sites.  



We are keenly awaiting the Governments response to the recent Supreme Court ruling that found that the UK had been in breach of EU pollution limits for years. The Government must have a plan in place by December 2015. We are already well advanced in the development of the Waltham Forest Air Quality Action Plan, but are mindful of possible Government actions and initiatives in light of this ruling.



The Council’s Mini-Holland Programme is a major initiative aimed at helping reduce harmful emissions and improve air quality in the borough. By making it safer, more attractive and therefore appealing for residents to travel about the borough by foot and bike, we hope that they will then leave their car at home. For example we know that 20 per cent of car journeys in the borough every morning and afternoon involve school pick-ups and drop-offs, most of which are under 2km or a 20 minute walk; a statistic we hope to greatly reduce.



The Council is also set to adopt powers to fine drivers who allow their engines to continue to run whilst being parked, commonly referred to as ‘idling’. Waltham Forest was also one of the first councils to introduce emission based parking permit charges, in its CPZ’s. We are also reviewing and developing new designs for our air quality scheme plantings, as a preventative and proactive way to improve air quality.



Currently a number of Waltham Forest’s main roads; including Lea Bridge Road, Hoe Street and Forest Road have levels of air pollution above the recommended EU and health-based limits and we are involved in a number of schemes for these roads to contribute to address that. We are constantly lobbying the likes of Transport for London to bring forward radical air quality improvement schemes and proposals for roads including the A12 and A406 which sit outside of our control but are a major source of vehicle emissions within Waltham Forest. We have also made clear to TfL that we expect more rapid progress on improving the emission control of their bus and rail fleets.



The Council has also worked in partnership with Global Action Plan, Barts Health NHS Trust and neighbouring boroughs to deliver the Barts Health Cleaner Air project. This project is aimed at reducing emissions from hospital sites and taking preventative steps to protect the most vulnerable from the impacts of air pollution.



Advice to those living in poor air quality areas:


  • Avoid using your own vehicles which add to the pollution problem and use more sustainable forms of travel such as cycling, walking, public transportation.

  • Avoid busy roads during peak rush hour times and use less polluted side roads instead. Walkit.com is a good and free resource to help plan cleaner routes.

  • Sign up to AirText.com - a free resource which updates you when pollution is exceptionally bad so you can plan ahead.

  • Sign up to the Council’s twitter account as we have started sending tweet notifications when pollution levels are high.

If you would like more information about any of these press releases or have a different media enquiry please contact us at media@walthamforest.gov.uk or on 020 8496 3000.