Cllr Steve Hamilton: The Council must do more to improve air quality

stevehamCllr Steve Hamilton’s speech to Wednesday’s full council meeting

The quality of the air we breathe is important, and the quality of the air in London is not always as we would like it to be.

But things have improved.

We no longer have the so called ‘pea soupers’

Cllr Culhane has already mentioned the Great Smog of 1952, where visibility was reduced to a few yards, the smog was so bad it even crept indoors, and it is claimed that 12,000 people died from this single event. I can confirm that not only do I not remember it, it predates both of my parents!

Since then, the Clean Air Act and subsequent legislation have improved the quality of the air we breathe.

We have converted to cleaner power sources, and moved many polluting industries away from homes.

Now the main sources of pollution in the Borough are transport and construction – sadly we can not yet get Mr Fusion devices to cleanly power our cars, and we still need the roads…

The Government and the Mayor of London have been doing a lot to work on improving the air quality in our city.

The Ultra Low Emissions Zone that is being introduced in Central London will place strict limits on the NOx emissions from vehicles and also on particulate matter, both PM10 and PM2.5. While Hammersmith and Fulham is not within the zone, we will benefit, as all the traffic which passes through the borough into Central London will have to meet the requirements.

And while the scheme is not being introduced immediately – vans and lorries are expensive, and it is right that we give businesses time to adjust – the effects will be felt sooner, as businesses invest in vehicles, they will ensure they can use them for years to come, so will ensure they meet the requirements ahead of the legislation.

Buses make up the single biggest road contributor the NOx emissions in our borough, and the Mayor has already worked to reduce emissions by introducing hybrid buses such as the new Routemaster, which emit no pollution while ‘idling’ in traffic and waiting at bus stops.

The Mayor has gone further, by requiring all new tenders for bus routes to be compliant with the ULEZ immediately, rather than waiting for it to come into effect.

He has gone even further towards reducing pollution by introducing the first fully electric double decker bus.

Meanwhile the Government is working to reduce the emissions here in Hammersmith and Fulham.

I said buses are the biggest road contributor to NOx, but trains passing through are an even bigger source. This is why the electrification of the Great Western Mainline benefits us here in Hammersmith and Fulham – we might eliminate 15% of NOx in the borough with this single policy from the Government.

However there is more that can be done, and it is right that we lobby others to do more.

But it is important that we do more ourselves too…

What proportion of the Council’s vehicles are low emission?

What is the Council doing to support and promote plug-in electric vehicles in the borough?

What is the Council doing to ensure traffic flows freely? More than a quarter of the particulate matter in the borough comes from brakes – moving traffic means cleaner air

I suggest the Council could do more, and that we deserve more.

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