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A local resident is claiming that Wandsworth Council is refusing to release important air quality data which shows that pollution levels remain dangerous.

The information comes from new monitors set up by the Council last autumn, and includes data on the level of small particulate (PM2.5) pollution, which is especially dangerous to human health.

Mike Fawcett believes that the Council is legally obliged to publish the data; and has submitted a formal legal request that the Council should publish it, promptly and in full.

Historically, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) has been the main focus of concern about air pollution in Putney High Street, because NO2 levels have been monitored for many years, whereas prior to the new monitors there had been no monitoring of PM2.5 pollution anywhere in the Borough.

Mr Fawcett says that scientific modelling suggests that the level of PM2.5 pollution throughout Putney is between two and three times higher than the limit recommended by the World Health Organisation. However, he believes the level on and around Putney High Street is likely to be even higher perhaps significantly so.

Mr Fawcett, who suffers from a chronic lung condition and is therefore additionally vulnerable to the effects of air pollution, says that since last summer he has repeatedly asked the Council to publish the new data, but without success, so he has now resorted to the formal legal request.

He contends that the legal obligation on the Council to publish the pollution data is imposed by the Environmental Information Regulations 2004, which require prompt and continuous publication of any environmental information held or acquired by any public authority.

The Council have told Mr Fawcett that they intend to publish a Council Committee report about Putney High Street, including their monitoring findings, in late June after the local elections but Mr Fawcett believes the delay is unacceptable.

A council spokesperson said, “We very much intend sharing this data which we have gone to great lengths to capture - improving air quality monitoring is one of the actions in the Wandsworth Environment and Sustainability Strategy. We have installed new technology in Putney to capture PM2.5 data, but this technology is experimental so we want to ensure it is thoroughly tested to ensure the information it collects is reliable and robust. Running the data for a certain period of time will also mean it will be more contextual and meaningful. We feel June is the soonest that we will have enough reliable data, presented within the context of ongoing trends, to make any firm conclusions. At that point it will be presented in full to councillors and available to the public.”

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April 1, 2022

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