Pollution campaigners challenge mayor candidates

bus-brixton_750_DSC_0006Campaigners against air pollution in Brixton have written to all candidates for London mayor in the election to take place on 5 May asking them to commit to action to tackle the problem in areas, like the town centre, where it is particularly bad.

Lambeth for a Cool Planet, formed a year ago, organised a Walk for Clean Air which saw more than 100 local people, including three Lambeth councillors, walk down the highly polluted Brixton Hill to Windrush Square.

Since then the group has met Jennifer Brathwaite, the Lambeth cabinet member for environment and sustainability. and participated in discussions on Lambeth’s air quality action plan.

But, it said in a statement, “While there are important measures that local councils can put in place, we believe that if London’s air pollution is to be addressed effectively, the role of the mayor of London is absolutely vital.

“Brixton Road, which runs through the heart of Brixton, has some of the worst pollution levels in London. Many people have been astonished to learn that in 2014 it had higher annual average levels of nitrogen dioxide than Oxford Street.

“In 2015, the annual average level was more than three times higher than the EU limit.

“Brixton Road runs through densely populated residential areas, as well a very busy shopping centre and has two primary schools directly alongside it, which means that many people are affected by its harmful emissions on a daily basis.”

The group said people who live beside Brixton Road, may experience almost continuous exposure to the dangerous pollutant nitrogen dioxide.

A study by researchers at King’s College London estimated that 100 deaths a year in Lambeth alone are directly caused by air pollution and across London as a whole the figure is nearly 9,500.

The group said that only a quarter of the buses serving Brixton conform to the “Euro VI” standard which means they are significantly less polluting than older models.

“This is something that the mayor and Transport for London (TfL) are well-placed to address,” the group said.

It called on the candidates to commit to the following measures, with a focus on urgent action in the areas where pollution levels are highest:

Publish a strategy to meet EU air quality limits across London by 2020.

Require all buses in London’s most polluted areas to be Euro V1 standard by 2018.

Expand the London “ultra low emissions zone” as far as the South Circular by 2020.

Commit to exploring the feasibility of introducing emissions-based road user charging.

Commit to making all new taxis and private hire vehicles electric or hybrid by 2018.

Introduce cycle hire schemes in areas of high pollution, paid for from TfL or mayoral funds.

Trial a requirement that bus drivers switch off their engines when stopping at very busy bus stops, such as those outside Brixton tube station.

The group plans to publish the responses on its Facebook page.