Council "share our residents’ deep concern at the high street’s nitrogen dioxide levels"
Harmful traffic pollution levels on Putney High Street has already breached annual limits nine days into January. Last year it took ten days!
Concentrations of nitrogen dioxide - a gas linked to asthma and other serious respiratory problems - are not supposed to go above 200 ug/m3 on more than 18 occasions a year under Government clean air targets.
Buses shown to be major cause of pollution
Provisional data from the kerbside pollution monitor shows a 49 % decrease in the number of times nitrogen dioxide levels exceeded the EU hourly target last year compared to the previous 12 months.
There was a 65% year on year decrease at the council’s second air quality monitoring station which is attached to a high street building façade. The decreases coincide with the introduction of cleaner buses on Putney High Street which were introduced gradually from October 2012. The bus investment came about as a result of Wandsworth air quality and traffic study which ensured Putney was treated as a priority.
A spokesman for the Putney Society said:
“The Putney Society is very disappointed but not entirely surprised that the annual NO2 limit has already been breached on Putney High Street. We had hoped that the new hybrid buses slowly being introduced would make a difference but it seems not really, at least as yet. The Putney Society continues to campaign for improved air quality and we plan to conduct another survey of our own when we can get hold of the necessary equipment. We would urge the Council to accelerate the introduction of a tighter stopping regime for delivery lorries in the High Street and to join us in urging Transport for London to bring forward the introduction of cleaner buses on local routes. We would also urge the Mayor of London to consider imposing yet tighter limits in London’s Low Emission Zone, at least for those areas where problems are known to be most acute. Action to combat the ever increasing use of diesel engines in motor vehicles of all sizes may be the only way to reduce NO2 emissions as these engines are a key source of this dangerous pollutant”.
Finn Coyle, the TfL environment manager for transport emissions, is reported as saying:
“I think Putney High Street is actually the worst in Europe for NOx – it is worse than Oxford Street in terms of congestion.”
Cllr Jonathan Cook, environment spokesman for the council, said:
“We share our residents’ deep concern at the high street’s nitrogen dioxide levels which is why we installed the air monitoring stations and used the results to leverage a major upgrade to Putney’s heavily polluting bus fleet.
“Provisional data shows nitrogen dioxide levels have fallen dramatically as cleaner buses were introduced but there is still a very long way to go before this congested street achieves the clean air objective set by the EU.
“We continue to work on several fronts to accelerate the rate of improvement including revising road and parking layouts and working with businesses to reduce the impacts of delivery traffic. We also promote and invest in a range of alternative transport options to help our residents and businesses switch from cars to less polluting modes of travel. This includes an extension of the cycle hire scheme which now covers Putney, new electric vehicle infrastructure and a vastly improved riverbus services from Putney Pier.”
Murad Qureshi, Labour’s environment spokesman on the London Assembly, said:
“It is appalling that just five days into the New Year the hourly legal limit for nitrogen dioxide on one of our busiest roads has already been exceeded. Air pollution is a known killer causing over 4,000 premature deaths every year."
January 17, 2014