Hackney Council has monitored and managed air quality and produced the requisite reviews and reports. It has worked in partnership with the Mayor of London, Transport for London and other boroughs and implemented actions in the AQAP. However, NOx levels have and will continue to breach legal limits. Other pollutants exceed WHO guidelines.
EU limits require review in light of research suggesting no safe levels of many pollutants. Particulates and ozone are causing serious concern. Many people will die prematurely and ail unnecessarily.
Very large reductions in emissions are needed. Hackney Council cannot do this alone. A step change in vehicle technology, a complete shift from fossil fuel-based transport or prohibition of road traffic into London is required. Work at European level is required as, at times, pollution is blown from the continent into London and the UK and from the UK onto the continent.
Are we living within our environmental limits? No. Our local environment cannot process all the emissions and this endangers our health and ecosystems.
The SDC’s ‘Local Leaders’ Guide’ proved valuable in carrying out this assessment. It provided an authoritative structure for the review. Looking beyond legal targets to the wider context of environmental limits casts fresh light on the causes of the shocking loss of life and vitality and the constraints faced in finding solutions.
Sustainable Hackney will consider the findings of this assessment and make recommendations. 2013 is the Year of Air. So our proposals will include actions on raising awareness of the health impacts of polluted air and on increasing action and changing behaviours at governmental, civic and personal level.
Windus Road Home Zone: a Hackney Council Air Quality initiative
Photo: K Johnson