Lambeth worst borough in central London for progress tackling air pollution

29 April 2019

Lambeth is among the worst London boroughs for action on air pollution. According to the Mayor’s annual survey of London, Lambeth is breaking legal air pollution limits on two key measures - and the council is failing even to measure a third.

According to Local Authorities and Air Quality published recently, data for 2017 shows:
Lambeth is in the bottom three of 33 boroughs for Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) pollution (1), with large areas of the borough breaking legal annual limits. NO2 from burning fossil fuels causes early deaths and chronic illness from heart and lung disease and childhood asthma.
Lambeth is in the bottom two of 33 boroughs for pollution by PM10 particulate matter (2) - larger particles from vehicle emissions, brake dust, tyres and road wear, which causes heart and lung disease and asthma.
Lambeth doesn’t even monitor PM2.5 particulate matter (smaller particles from vehicles, combustion, and industry) that penetrate deep into the cardiovascular system, causing heart & lung conditions, increased mortality, asthma, bronchitis, heart attack, stroke and cancer.
And Lambeth is one of three boroughs to have made no improvements to its air quality monitoring policy 2016-18. (3)
Of eight central London boroughs, Lambeth scores worst overall, only showing clear improvement in only one measure. (4)  

While other central London boroughs showed ‘clear improvement’ in between three and five of the eight measures of air quality (5), Lambeth showed:
* only slight improvement in the number of times it broke objectives for annual averages of NO2
* only slight improvement in the number of times it broke objectives for hourly measures of NO2
* only slight improvement in the number of times it broke objectives for daily limits for PM10
* only partial improvement for its seven-year trend for PM10
* only slight improvement for its seven-year trend for NO2.
Green Party councillor Pete Elliott (Gipsy Hill) said: “This is a damning report. It shows other London boroughs are taking air pollution much more seriously than Lambeth.

“As a start, the council should significantly increase the number and type of air quality monitors to more accurately measure pollution hot-spots, especially around schools and construction sites.

“While there are some small steps being made, such as improvements to the council’s fleet of vehicles and the piloting of temporary school street closures, this is not nearly enough.

“We are calling on Labour councillors to work with Green Party colleagues to create a much more ambitious air quality strategy for Lambeth. Policies such as a work-place car levy and traffic-free routes across the borough should be considered, along with planning regulations to minimise the impact of all all new buildings on air quality. Business as usual is not good enough – and is increasingly dangerous to the health of us all, especially children.”

  1. Boroughs showing only slight improvement for NO2 are Lambeth, City of London and Kensington and Chelsea
  2. Boroughs breaking objectives for daily PM10 levels were Lambeth and Brent
  3. Boroughs making no improvements in air quality monitoring policy are Lambeth, Islington, and Kensington and Chelsea
  4. Central London boroughs Islington, Hackney, City of London, Southwark, Haringey, Camden, Kensington and Chelsea and Lambeth showed a ‘clear improvement’ in reducing the number of times it broke objectives for average annual PM10
  5. See graphic page 66-67 of Local Authorities and Air Quality:

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