16 June 2013
Lambeth Council has bowed to pressure from green campaigners, and reversed its decision to leave the London Air Quality Network.
Lambeth residents have had no access to information about their polluted air since the Council withdrew its participation in the scheme. The scheme makes data from its air quality monitoring stations public and enables progress, or deterioration in air quality to be measured.
The Green Party exposed the move by the Council to withdraw from the network in April 2012. (1) Lambeth Council made the move without any public announcement, and in the middle of some of the highest pollution levels in the borough in recent times.
The Green Party has since been campaigning for the Council to make its data publicly available again. This included raising the issue at the London Assembly level and with the London Mayor. (2) The Green Party also measured pollution levels in the surrounding streets, highlighting that air pollution was at dangerous levels.
The London Mayor estimates that there are 4,600 premature deaths each year due to air pollution. Clean Air London estimates that there have been over 50 deaths already this year in Lambeth alone.
The London Air Quality Network has announced that Lambeth has now returned to the London Air Quality Network (3).
"Lambeth's three monitoring sites at Brixton High Street, Vauxhall and Stretham Green provide important coverage in the south-east of the network and help to define the spatial distribution of concentrations across London. All three sites were reviewed in the recent 'Strategic review of air quality monitoring in London' report" The Network said in a statement.
It also pointed out that in 2010 the kerbside site on Brixton High Street recorded the highest NO2 average emissions..
In addition, the particulate monitor at Vauxhall was one of only two stations on the network to exceed the PM10 annual mean of 40 ug/m3 in 2010 and also recorded 80 breaches of the daily threshold of 50 ug/m3.
Jonathan Bartley from Lambeth Green Party said: "Lambeth's change of heart is welcome. But this is only the first step in addressing the problem of air quality in Lambeth. Everyone who lives in the borough continues to be exposed to substantial amounts of air pollution. This will continue to impact their health causing premature death, and will be affecting people even if they aren't currently experiencing noticeable breathing problems.
"Lambeth must work harder on a range of measures to tackle air pollution. This includes implementing a 20 mph speed limit across the borough as soon as possible and lobbying Transport for London to do the same on the borough's red Routes. The borough should also plan more car free days and look at greater incentives for cycling and walking. The borough is even now missing opportunities. For example the changes to Streatham High Road which will begin in two months time will see no reduction in the speed limit, and no dedicated cycle lanes. Along with its latest decision to incinerate all its waste, Lambeth Council has yet to show it is serious about air quality either inside or outside the borough."
(2) See: http://mqt.london.gov.uk/mqt/public/question.do?id=44957, http://mqt.london.gov.uk/mqt/public/question.do?id=44960, http://mqt.london.gov.uk/mqt/public/question.do?id=45540, http://mqt.london.gov.uk/mqt/public/question.do?id=44959