Havering could seek Cleaner Air Borough status

Havering borough council is considering applying for ‘Cleaner Air Borough’ status, which will enable it to bid for up to £400,000 of funding to improve air quality in the area.

At a meeting of the cabinet next Wednesday (April 17), councillors will discuss whether to apply for the status, which is awarded by the London Mayor to boroughs that have made demonstrable efforts towards tackling air pollution.

Havering borough councillor Barry TebbuttLondon Mayor Boris Johnson first announced the Cleaner Air Borough funding scheme as part of a series of proposals to tackle air quality in the capital at City Hall on February 13 2013 (see airqualitynews.com story). The first awards of Cleaner Air Borough status are due to be announced in January 2014, which gain successful applicants access to up to £400,000 of Transport for London (TfL) funding.

Havering will have to demonstrate fulfilment of six criteria with regards to air quality to gain Cleaner Air Borough status and gain access to extra funding, including: political leadership; taking action; leading by example; using the planning system; integrating air quality into the public health system; and informing the public.

According to the borough council, air quality in Havering has improved over the years, with an 18% reduction in nitrogen dioxide levels in Romford over the past five years and an 11.5% reduction in particulate matter PM10 levels in the town.

The council said it has been monitoring air quality from stations throughout the borough, but that work still needs to be done to further improve the air quality in certain hot spots.

Havering was declared an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) in March 2006 due to levels of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter PM10 exceeding national objectives.

The borough has also been part of the London’s Low Emission Zone (LEZ) since it was first introduced in 2008. The zone stops certain high-polluting vehicles from travelling in the borough and encourages people to drive cleaner, less polluting vehicles.

Council initiatives 

To tackle the air pollution in the borough, the council said it has worked on a number of initiatives over the years, such as encouraging residents to walk and cycle more, working with businesses to encourage commuters to use public transport, working with schools to develop smarter travel plans and encouraging motorists to switch off their engines when parked up – a particular problem around schools.

There are also plans to expand the Air Quality Monitoring Network in the borough so that places where pollution is not currently checked can be monitored and improved.

Havering councillor Barry Tebbutt, cabinet member for environment, said: “We are very pleased with the figures and have worked hard to try to lower emissions in the borough, but we still have more to do. There are certain areas that we would like to monitor more closely and we are working on a number of initiatives to improve air quality.

“Vehicle emissions are of most concern in the borough and we are making improvements to encourage people to cycle and walk more and to use public transport.”

More information about air quality in Havering is available on the borough council website.