A draft report calls for Islington borough council to work more closely with businesses and neighbouring boroughs to improve air quality
A number of recommendations to improve air quality in Islington have been put forward in a draft report to the borough council.
Suggestions include funding to investigate the implementation of a borough-wide Low Emission Zone (LEZ), low-cost cycle tracks, setting up an air quality working group and planting particular species of vegetation that can improve air quality.
Published last week (March 5), the ‘Air quality – draft report of the regeneration and employment review committee’ document was put together by the council’s Air Quality Scrutiny Panel, which is chaired by Liberal Democrat councillor Greg Foxsmith.
It follows the council’s Air Quality Review, which ran from July 2012 until March 2013, taking evidence from campaigners, scientists, council officers and Greater London Authority (GLA) advisers.
The panel’s report was discussed at a meeting of residents, campaigners and council members at Islington Town Hall last Tuesday (March 5). The draft report will need final approval from the council before its suggested actions can be taken forward.
One of the major recommendations in the report is the need for the council to work more closely with neighbouring borough councils on specific projects, because “often air pollution in Islington was caused by sources elsewhere in London or even further afield.â€?
As part of this, the report proposes holding a second air quality summit with Camden borough council in Islington in 2013, following a previous summit in 2011.
The panel suggests that the council increase its engagement with businesses in order to encourage them to reduce emissions. Methods suggested include low emissions deliveries via electric vehicles or bicycles; providing showers and bike storage facilities for employees; bicycle purchase loan schemes for employees; and replacing old boilers with low-nitrogen oxide emitting boilers.
Islington borough council also manages the Airtext service, which provides air pollution, UV, pollen and temperature forecasts for Greater London. As a result, the report suggests that the council applies for a Cleaner Air Borough award when they are introduced by the GLA in 2014.
A number of council projects and measures to tackle air pollution undertaken over the last decade are also highlighted in the report, such as a schools programme funded by the London Sustainability Exchange, which resulted in an 11% reduction in the number of people leaving their engines running at school gates.
However, despite Islington officers being available to give talks on air quality in schools, the report notes that “there has been little interestâ€?. Another shortcoming highlighted was that “more could be done to promote the use of taxisâ€? meeting higher European emissions standards, with the report suggesting that free parking permits could be offered to drivers of greener taxis.
Islington is recognised as having the least amount of green space per person out of all the London boroughs, according to the report. The main source of pollution is thought to be from road traffic passing through the borough on the busy A1 road.
Islington was declared an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) in 2003 as targets for pollutants were not being met. As a result, an Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) was produced, but annual progress reports have shown that the borough still does not meet annual targets for nitrogen dioxide. The borough council said it intends to develop a new AQAP in the near future – perhaps as early as the end of this financial year – which the report will feed into.
There are two main air monitoring sites in Islington. The Holloway Road site monitors carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter, while the Arsenal site monitors nitrogen dioxide and particulates. There are a further 21 sites that use passive sampling from smaller diffusion tubes.
The scrutiny panel’s report concludes that “although much work is already done to improve air quality in Islington, further measures are necessary in order to reduce air pollution further. It was acknowledged this would be challenging as the source of much of the air pollution was from outside Islington or was from traffic passing through Islington but the Council would need to work with other boroughs, Transport for London and the GLA in order to improve air quality as much as possible.â€?
The air quality report is available on the Islington borough council website.