Community groups in London came together to share ideas, expertise and projects for tackling air pollution in their areas at an event attended by several local politicians this week (July 7).
According to environmental NGO ClientEarth, which ran the event through its Healthy Air London project in partnership with charity London sustainability Exchange (LSx), several community groups highlighted ideas for tackling the issue, such as working with local shop keepers to ‘close the door’ against pollution.
Groups in attendance such as Hackney’s I Like Clean Air and Transition Town Tooting also advocated lobbying politicians and health and wellbeing boards, asking drivers to stop idling outside school gates and encouraging people avoid polluted roads when walking and cycling.
The ‘Taking a deep breath: Cleaning up London’s air’ event, which took place on Tuesday evening (July 7) at the St. Bride Foundation in the capital, was also supported by several London Assembly Members and local councillors from across the political divide, who took questions from the community groups.
Speaking at the event, Liberal Democrat Assembly Member, Stephen Knight, praised the work of communities tackling air pollution in the capital.
He said: “One only has to look at the example of the No To Silvertown campaigners to see the vital role community groups can play in not merely monitoring air pollution and raising awareness of the issue, but also galvanising people to campaign to secure real changes occur in boroughs such as Greenwich and Tower Hamlets. We need community groups like this in every part of London.â€?
Also in attendance, Murad Qureshi, Labour London Assembly Member, said: ““Clean air should be a basic right but its clear many Londoners are instead being forced to live amid toxic pollution hot spots. That’s why it’s important that communities organise to demand this basic requirement of a healthy life. Together we can make our voice heard.â€?
Run by ClientEarth for the past three years, the Healthy Air London project works with community groups and individuals across London on addressing air quality concerns and is funded by the City Bridge Trust.
Andrea Lee, Healthy Air London coordinator at ClientEarth, said: “London’s air pollution is an invisible killer. For too long Londoners have had to accept that living in a city means breathing in dirty air.
“However, individuals and community groups from across London are realising it doesn’t have to be like this. By joining forces they can tell their elected representatives loud and clear that they expect more ambition in cleaning up the air they breathe.â€?
Samantha Heath, chief executive of LSx, said: “Although we know quite a bit about pollution, we were alarmed at the stunningly high levels of pollution in Outer London, such as Clapham Junction and South Wimbledon.â€?