The London borough of Tower Hamlets has agreed a new five-year strategy to tackle air pollution and climate change, which will aim to encourage a shift from car-usage to ‘sustainable’ transport modes.
Approved at a meeting of the council’s cabinet last week (31 October), the strategy includes measures to tackle air pollutants including nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter, which it claims contributes to ‘widening health inequalities’ within the borough.
Tower Hamlets is declared as a whole borough Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) for both pollutants.
Within the strategy, the council has noted: “Measures which benefit both air quality and climate change can be realised through actions such as promoting low-carbon vehicles and renewable sources of energy that do not involve combustion. At the same time, actions that tackle climate change but damage air quality must be avoided.”
The council has identified a reduction in emissions from road traffic as a ‘crucial priority’ within the strategy, with installation of up to 300 charging points for electric vehicles to be completed in the borough by 2025 in order to help achieve this aim. The council will also facilitate the uptake of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles within the borough.
Measures to encourage low carbon development and reducing domestic energy consumption have also been approved within the plan.
Commenting on the measures, the Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, said: “I am aware of the challenge ahead. This isn’t something the council can put right on our own but we have an important role to play. I am committed to reducing air pollution in our borough. Our strategy calls for a cleaner, greener, more sustainable Tower Hamlets.
“I also support the ambitious policies on air quality and climate change that have been set out in the Mayor of London’s strategy and look forward to working closely with the GLA to implement these policies.”
Earlier this year the council consulted on an Air Quality Action Plan which has been approved by the Greater London Authority, and sets out in detail how the council will reduce pollution locally, including encouraging the use of low-emission vehicles and renewable sources of energy.
The Air Quality Action Plan also sets out the council’s plans to promote cleaner transport including discouraging unnecessary pollution from idling vehicles and ensuring new housing developments do not increase air pollution as well as raising awareness through public health campaigns.
Councillor Rachel Blake – Tower Hamlets’ Lead member for Strategic Development, Waste and Air Quality said: “The quality of London’s air is dangerously – and illegally – poor. We know high levels of damaging pollutants harm our residents as their health and quality of life are compromised. We hope our strategy will start to address these issues so we can protect the health of our residents.”