On-the-spot fines for vehicle idling and increasing electric vehicle charging points across the borough are just some of the actions proposed by Waltham Forest council as part of a five year plan to improve air quality.
The 2017-2022 plan has been developed in recognition of the legal requirement on all local authorities to work towards air quality objectives under the Environment Act.
The London Borough of Waltham Forest is currently meeting all of the national Air Quality Strategy (AQS) objectives other than for Nitrogen Dioxide. It also meeting the current objectives for Particulate Matter (PM10 and PM2.5), but the council say it is still a priority as “any level is harmfulâ€?.
In the report, Waltham Forest council outlined six broad topics that it developed actions for. This includes emissions from developments and buildings, public health awareness raising and cleaner transport.
And, the plan will look to reducing emissions from delivery servicing, council owned vehicles and engaging of local solutions.
One of the standout points were on-the-spot fines for unnecessary idling. The council acknowledged in the risks section that it is “problematicâ€? to define unnecessary idling which could lead to confrontation. However, plans were announced to introduce on the spot fines as well as discouraging unnecessary idling from all vehicles through awareness campaigns, which the council say will cost £1,000 a year.
Deputy leader and cabinet member for the environment Clyde Loakes explained that it is important that the council does everything in its power to improve air quality, but it is not simply about enforcement.
He said: “We hold anti-idling operations regularly outside our schools, to educate parents about the impact that their idling cars can have on the developing lungs of their own children – our youngest residents.
“It’s not just about enforcement though. We have been improving pavement and road designs for pedestrians and cyclists so they have extra space – our priority is making sustainable transport as safe as possible for all to enjoy.â€?
Among the concrete measures taken were steps to introduce a further 32 car club bays by next month, bringing the overall total to 72. Other plans to increase the proportion of electric and hydrogen vehicles and low emission vehicles include introducing more rapid and master chargers by the end of next year.
The council say this would enable residents to have an alternative to car ownership, as drivers get all the convenience without any of the hassle. Also, the introduction of ‘virtual loading bays’ for delivery companies, , which will mean a driver will have to book kerbside space in advance, would encourage the use of electric vehicles in the industry.
Emissions from buildings account for about 15% of the NOX emissions across London, according to the report. Among the actions set out by Waltham Forest Council include ensuring that adequate and well located green space and infrastructure is included in new developments is set as a priority.
And, there were plans to promote energy efficiency retrofitting projects in workplaces and homes by using programmes to replace old boilers/top-up loft insulation in combination with other energy conservation measures.
As part of the plan, the council has commissioned a team from King’s College London’s Environmental Research Group to conduct research on several air quality topics including the impact of the traditional car-based school run, residents’ and businesses’ levels of awareness about air quality and the effects of exposure to polluted air.
King’s College London will also be working with the council to analyse the health benefits of changes made to the borough’s streets where rat-run usage has been greatly reduced, and where improved pedestrian and cycle facilities and infrastructure has been constructed or is proposed.
Dr Sean Beevers from the Environmental Research Group at King’s College London said: “We are looking forward to working with Waltham Forest to assess the potential health benefits of increased walking and cycling in the borough, alongside the borough’s initiatives to improve air quality for their residents.â€?