From Clear Air for Brent
Air pollution is now said to be the number one killer in the world, followed by HIV(1). According to Brent Council, 200 premature deaths occur each year which are directly attributable to air pollution as well as further unquantified premature deaths where air quality is a factor, so Clean Air for Brent (CAfB) expected to see bold actions backed by robust measures in Brent’s new Air Quality Action Plan (3,4).
However the plan, which was signed off by Council leaders late last year, contains no specific measures to protect public health or even to comply fully with legal standards (5). The action plan correctly identifies road transport as the major source of harmful emissions, but does not contain adequate solutions, and fails to effectively tackle the worst pollution hotspots and routes.
It is a plan that shies away from real action and accountability on this life-threatening issue. Fiona Mulaisho, Chair of CAfB said:
“In agreeing this toothless plan, Brent Council has missed another opportunity to step up its game, and promise much needed bold actions to its residents. We appreciate they are under severe financial constraints, but residents' health must be pushed far higher up their priority list.”
The Air Quality Action Plan, which covers the period from 2017-2022, contains four proposed Air Quality Focus Areas; but Brent’s own monitoring data show that these are not the worst affected areas. If, as stated, the Council's '...ultimate aim is to secure clean air for all especially for those at greatest risk or in the worst affected areas in the borough'; this plan will sadly not deliver it. CAfB urges the Council go beyond its current confines to:
· Create a borough-wide Clean Air Zone allowing for targeted action to improve air quality, reducing public exposure to all forms of pollution, delivering health benefits and economic growth.
· Undertake much more ambitious commitments to increase the proportion of journeys by walking and cycling in the borough (6).
· As a matter of priority introduce a Low Emission Neighbourhood which focuses action on a genuine priority area with a combination of controls, incentives, dis-incentives and awareness raising, to provide a measurable improvement (compared with a similar non-intervention area) over 5 years.
2. Clean Air for Brent (CAfB) is a coalition of residents' associations, community groups and individuals focused on raising awareness about air quality, changing behaviours to improve air quality, and improving public health outcomes in the Brent Borough through the provision of better air quality. It is also committed to contributing to local and national clean air policy debates.
3. Brent Council's Air Quality Action Plan can be viewed here: http://democracy.brent.gov.uk/documents/s47267/Air%20Quality%20Action%20Plan%202017-2022%20-%20Full%20Report.pdf
4. Air pollution contributes to poor health and is responsible for the premature death of 9,500 Londoners a year, with 112 early deaths in Brent in 2010. It is linked with cancer, strokes, heart disease and respiratory problems. The main pollutants are nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter, particularly from diesel vehicles. Of all outer London local authorities, Brent has the highest number of people - 69,283 - living in the Capital’s worst polluted areas.
5. The EU legal mean for NO2 is 40µg/metre3; the World Health Organisation sets it at 20µg/metre3. Similarly, EU legal requirements on particulate matter are 25m/m3, double the World Health Organisation guideline amounts of 12.5m/m3.
6. The current relevant Brent Cycling Strategy target is to increase the mode share to 3% in 2021 from 1% in 2013. The equivalent Brent Walking Strategy target is to increase pedestrian mode share to 30% in 2022 from 27% in 2016.
7. For further information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
8. CAfB website: https://cleanairforbrent.wordpress.com Twitter: @CleanAir4Brent Facebook: Clean Air for Brent