Mayor announces £6m funding for projects tackling toxic air

London Traffic

Heavy traffic on a London road

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has invested £6 million from his Air Quality Fund in 15 new projects being established across London with the aim of improving the capital’s air quality and tackling our climate emergency. The new schemes include initiatives to cut pollution from river craft and construction machinery, as well as establishing hundreds of car free and pedestrianisation schemes.

Four new Low Emission Neighbourhoods (LENs) will be established in Hackney, Dagenham, Southwark and Camden. LENs receive funding and support to install electric vehicle charge points, expand cycle lanes, establish green walls and investigate traffic reduction schemes. This funding will be matched with almost £3 million from the relevant boroughs.

Boroughs across London will also work with the Mayor to deliver 11 further projects to improve air quality, including: a project to tackle emissions from South London construction sites, an anti-engine-idling campaign spread across 27 boroughs, school streets in Redbridge, a zero-emission zone in the City, cargo bikes in Camden and retrofitting boats to cut emissions on the Thames. These projects will share £4 million from the Mayor, match funded with almost £6 million from the boroughs.

The funding is the final round of the £22 million Mayor’s Air Quality Fund which has delivered hard-hitting air quality projects across London and has now supported the creation of nine Low Emission Neighbourhoods, and 60 other projects to improve the capital’s air quality.

Announcing the latest funding on a visit to the City Fringe Low Emission Neighbourhood (established with support from the Mayor’s Air Quality Fund in 2016), the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Our filthy air is a health crisis that increases the risk of dementia and asthma and damages the lung development of our children.

“I’m delighted that our Air Quality Fund is helping boroughs to clean up some of our most polluted streets, making them safer for pedestrians and cyclists, providing electric vehicle charging points and supporting businesses and residents in adopting cleaner modes of transport.

“The introduction of the ULEZ in April this year was a major and necessary step in addressing our filthy air and protecting the health of all Londoners. Now this local funding is helping boroughs continue to do their part to improve air quality. Not only that but it is also helping Londoners to experience what a zero-emission city could be like, especially as we work to tackle our climate crisis.

“But London politicians can’t solve these issues alone. We need government ministers to wake up and recognise the true scale of this health emergency, and give us new clean air legislation and a national vehicle scrappage fund to truly improve the quality of the air we breathe.”

The City Fringe LEN is a collaborative scheme between the boroughs of Hackney, Islington and Tower Hamlets, based in Shoreditch.

The LEN was funded with £1 million from the second round of the Mayor’s Air Quality Fund and match funded by the boroughs, with the objective of improving air quality and promoting sustainable living in the area.

The LEN has pioneered the world’s first Ultra Low Emission-only Streets. These are two small clusters of streets in Hackney which prohibit the entry of petrol, diesel and older hybrid vehicles at certain times of the day restricting entry to only cyclists, pedestrians and Ultra Low Emission Vehicles – the first zone of its type anywhere in the world.

Cllr Jon Burke, Hackney Council Cabinet Member for Energy, Waste, Transport and Public Realm, said: “Our Ultra Low Emissions Streets in Hackney, supported by the Mayor’s Air Quality Fund, were the country’s first streets to restrict access to all but ultra-low emissions vehicles.

“Since they were implemented, motor traffic using these streets at peak times has reduced by up to 70 per cent, improving air quality in one of the most polluted areas in London and reclaiming the streets for the thousands of people that walk and cycle on them every day.

“We’re thrilled to have been awarded additional funding to improve air quality in Stoke Newington, where we’re going to be making it easier to walk and cycle and, in consultation with local people, investigating how we can restrict polluting vehicles on Church Street.”

Cllr Claudia Webbe, Islington Council’s executive member for environment and transport, said: “Air pollution is a huge problem for Islington residents, and we’re proud to have been leading from the front to tackle this life or death issue with our Ultra Low Emission Streets joint project with Hackney, the first of its kind in the UK. We’re strongly committed to more pioneering work to improve air quality and greatly welcome the Mayor of London’s funding today for the Healthy Streets Everyday scheme, which will run across 16 boroughs and be led by Islington Council, working with Cross River Partnership.

“We are also very pleased to be part of three more successful cross-borough projects which have been funded today, which includes the expansion of our City Fringe Zero Emission Network partnership to cover streets and businesses in Clerkenwell. The range of funding awarded will help Islington  roll out more Ultra Low Emission Streets; expand our anti idling awareness and enforcement activities; tackle polluting construction sites and deliver more Car Free Day activities.It’s vital that councils, the Mayor and organisations across London continue to take bold action to improve air quality and improve the health of Londoners.”

Zoë Anderson, who owns W.A. Green, an independent homeware boutique located in the LEN, said: “Traffic has reduced dramatically, and the street has improved immensely with the trees and cobbles making it a lovely place to wander and explore Shoreditch.

“Having hardly any vehicles during the day makes it so much safer for everybody and obviously fewer polluting vehicles are so much nicer for my staff and customers”.

Hayley Bignell from Brainlabs marketing agency, based inside the LEN, said: ‘Working with the LEN enabled the Brainlabs Green Committee to take huge steps forward in reducing the company’s air pollution and carbon footprint, and encouraging our colleagues to do the same in their everyday lives.

“The utilisation of a Zero Emission Network grant and ZEN Energy Audit allowed us to make our office a more energy efficient and recycling friendly environment, and the support from our ZEN officer during this process was excellent. We’ve had some great feedback run and would highly recommend other companies to do the same in future.”

Pan-London projects have also received funding, including ‘Healthy Streets Everyday’, delivered by Cross River Partnership, which aims to deliver 250 car-free and pedestrianisation initiatives over the next three years.

Susannah Wilks, Director of Cross River Partnership, said: “Cross River Partnership is absolutely delighted to be working with Islington council and 15 other London boroughs to deliver this Mayoral Air Quality-funded Healthy Streets Everyday programme.

“The project will help to co-ordinate 250 car-free and pedestrianisation projects across London over the next three years, helping to demonstrate the benefits of cleaner, car free streets for all Londoners.”

The Mayor is also supporting the creation of a new Construction Consolidation Centre in South London to link construction deliveries across six boroughs, removing the need for around 150 construction vehicle journeys every day.

This latest round of funding will allow London’s councils to continue to complement the Mayor’s ambitious programme to make London’s air safe to breathe. This has already seen the introduction of the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in central London in April, with plans to expand the zone to the North and South Circular in 2021.

The Mayor has also already established 10 low-emission bus zones, and worked with TfL to transform London’s bus and taxi fleet. The Mayor’s Air Quality Fund helps boroughs to complement those regional measures with targeted local action.


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