Extinction Rebellion to take action against idling in Wandsworth

The Wandsworth branch of the campaign group Extinction Rebellion has announced its plans to raise awareness of idling by stopping morning rush-hour traffic on a major road.

Local residents and activists will block and hold three lanes of congested traffic on the A3 West Hill in Wandsworth this Thursday, which is also Clean Air Day.

The group aims to raise awareness of start-stop vehicle idling, one of the leading causes of air pollution in an area with a local nursery and 1100 children at a local school.

David Smith, local resident, father and air pollution campaigner at Little Ninja, said: ‘Air pollution is a health emergency, that kills over 9,000 Londoners each year, and it’s a climate emergency.

‘Children have stunted lung and brain growth and babies are struggling to breathe, yet Transport for London do nothing to reduce vehicle emissions caused by start-stop-idling on London’s most congested roads.’

Extinction Rebellion are calling for the government to reduce the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2025. Credit: David Holt (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Air pollution from traffic is particularly high on major roads which gradually turn into narrow residential streets, such as West Hill, which sees three lanes of A3 traffic bottlenecking into a single lane.

Extinction Rebellion say during peak times, cars on West Hill are known to accelerate and brake 40 times and idle for 10 minutes to drive one mile of road, releasing particulate matter and causing EU pollution limits to be breached.

The group plans to combat this start-stop idling by using a method called ‘gating’, a technique used during the 2012 Olympics, which will see activists stop traffic for a few minutes, ask drivers to turn off their engines then allow the cars to once the road ahead is clear.

‘Every time vehicles brake, particulate matter is released from brake, tyre and road surface wear,’ Smith added. ‘An idling vehicle produces almost twice the emissions of a moving vehicle. Drivers and passengers, in particular, suffer from this issue as air pollution can be nine to twelve times higher inside the vehicle.’

This is the first action organised by Extinction Rebellion Wandsworth, who have contacted local schools and given the emergency services a contact number so that ambulances and fire engines will not be disrupted by their action.

Extinction Rebellion grew to global fame after organising a demonstration in London earlier this year which saw them occupy four prominent sites in the capital for 11 days.

The demands of the group, which is campaigning against human extinction and ecological collapse, are for the government to declare a climate and ecological emergency, for it to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025, and for the government to introduce a citizens’ assembly.