The London borough of Havering has formally approved a five-year air quality plan to improve monitoring and bring about improvements in air quality across the borough.
Havering, which includes the areas of Romford and Upminster in the east of London, has produced a strategy focusing on four key policy strands: monitoring and modelling, awareness raising and encouraging smarter travel, reducing emissions from buildings and developments and reducing emissions from transport.
According to the council, the impact of public health on the borough’s population is of particular concern as it has one of the largest over 65s populations across the city region, with around 23% of residents, roughly 40,000 people falling into that age bracket.
Studies have suggested that the elderly, and youngest members of the population are among those who suffer the most severe health impacts from exposure to poor air quality.
The strategy, which was formally approved by the council earlier this month after having been the subject of a 10-week public consultation from January, details around 40 actions to be undertaken by the authority across the next five years.
Among the agreed policies are plans to better understand the levels of air pollution around the borough’s schools, using AQ Mesh Pods to provide ‘real time air quality measurements’. Data gathered as part of this work will then be used as part of an air quality publicity campaign to encourage walking to school
The council has also agreed to undertake feasibility study into the location and start-up of a new permanent continuous monitoring location, which it says will provide a greater level of detail for reporting and planning in the area.
On public health, the council intends to promote walking and engage with over 50s forums to form a walking club, continue to use the ‘Miles the Mole’ character developed by the council as an air quality champion to raise awareness of air quality issues among residents and to promote the use of public transport by residents.
The council will also investigate the feasibility of introducing a ‘car club’ vehicle sharing service within the borough, to reduce the number of private vehicles at new developments, as well as offering workplace grants to businesses for infrastructure to encourage staff to walk, cycle and use public transport on their journey in to work.
Guidance will also be drafted for developers to ‘assess and reduce’ the impact of any new developments within the borough, as well as a review of current planning conditions to ensure that they are fit for purpose in relation to air quality.
On road transport, which is thought to be the single largest contributor to NOx emissions within the borough accounting for around 65.7% of emissions, the council has committed to exploring the introduction of designated drop off zones to reduce congestion at schools, as well as engagement with businesses on the adoption of low emission vehicles.
Commenting on the plan, Councillor Viddy Persaud, the council’s cabinet member for public protection and safety, said: “We want Havering to become an even greener borough than it already is. This action plan to improve the air quality will go a long way to achieving this and will also enhance the lives of all our residents.
“Our priority is to protect and provide ways in which residents can continue to lead healthy and happy lives and part of that is improving the air in which they breathe. We have taken into consideration what residents have told us and aim to carry out what is needed to improve air quality.â€?
LB Havering – Air Quality Action Plan