Coffey in Westminster low emissions visit

Westminster city council has called on government to support new policies which will reduce pollution in urban areas, in an effort to improve air quality in central London.

The call for support came as the minister responsible for air quality, Dr Therese Coffey, visited the authority to see some of its electric charging points first hand.

According to the council, Westminster suffers from some of the worst air quality in the country, and has some of the most polluted roads in Europe.

new policies

Therese Coffey (front) charges an electric vehicle in Marylebone LEN with Cllr David Harvey (red tie), residents and members of the business community

The council said it has already taken significant steps to tackle the problem, in particular, running the #DontBeIdle campaign to stop engine idling and introducing £80 fines for idling drivers as well as launching a pilot emissions based parking surcharge for diesel drivers.

Pollution

Now the council is calling on expertise from the business community, academia, central government and even other European cities to help pull together new policies which prevent pollution and its negative health impacts.

This week the council held a round table composed of figures from TfL, GLA, Kings College London, think tanks, medicine and central government at the House of Lords and discussed ideas for a new range of measures.

Some of the topics discussed included a national scrappage schemes to encourage timely disposal of diesel vehicles; temporary road closures and ‘play streets’ to reclaim public space; car free residential and commercial developments; stronger building and construction regulation; and, structures for air quality regulation after Brexit to take advantage of the change.

‘Support’

Cabinet member for Environment, Cllr David Harvey, said: “Westminster has one million visitors every day and poor air quality is a problem for each of them.

“There is no silver bullet to combat pollution and it will take a range of policies to reverse the negative health impact made by poor air quality. We ask that government support us and leave no stone unturned in our search for improvement across the board. From supporting the spread of electric vehicles to changing the way buildings are constructed, we want the best ideas from academia and the private sector to help shape our policies.”

Yesterday (6 September), Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs Minister, Dr Coffey, visited the Marylebone Low Emission Neighbourhood where Westminster has been trailing a range of new initiatives, including installing new charging points for electric vehicles using electricity from lampposts.