Agenda item

Air Quality in the Borough

To receive a presentation for discussion on Air Quality in the Borough. 


The forum received a presentation from Ned Johnson (Pollution Control and Air Quality - Principal Officer) on air quality in the borough.


1.            Presentation


The following points were highlighted in the presentation:


·         The great smog of 1952 eventually led to the high point in Environmental Law the 1956 Clean Air Act. 

·         Air pollution is major concern.  It is one of the world’s biggest preventable killers.  Everyone is at risk.  It can cause heart disease, cancer and respiratory illnesses. 

·         The major sources of air pollution are road traffic, industry and domestic heating.  There are more than 160,000 vehicles a day travelling along the A10 and A406 with 325,000 on the M25. 

·         One of the major pinch points is outside Bowes Primary School on the A406 where traffic is often at a standstill. 

·         Industrial emissions and sites such as the incinerator are subject to greater control than traffic under European Union directives. 

·         Gas domestic heating is a major concern. The way houses are heated will have to change.  District heating schemes are very efficient. 

·         The council monitors PM10 particles and nitrogen dioxide levels.  PM10 particles can penetrate the airwaves and go into the bloodstream.  Nitrogen dioxide exceeds safe levels on busy roads in Enfield.    PM10 does not. 

·         There are 4 real time monitoring stations in the borough and 10 diffusion sites.  The information gained is fed into the borough systems to calibrate modelled outcomes.  This can help predict problems. 

·         Bowes Primary School is at one of the worst pinch points in the borough. 

·         Pollutants are affected by the weather.  Safe PM10 levels are never exceeded and have fallen away recently with the phasing out of diesel fuel in buses and lorries.

·         The Council has an Air Quality Action Plan setting out how the borough can reduce nitrogen dioxide and PM10 levels.  This was first issued in 2003, updated in 2015 and a new one is now being prepared.

·         The latest version contains 40 actions mainly based around traffic and encouraging more walking and cycling.  The Council does not control the major roads running through the borough.  These are under Transport for London and the Highways Agency.  Most pollution comes from main roads. 

·         It is the significant improvement in vehicle technology, not a reduction in levels of traffic, that have helped reduce PM10 levels in the borough.  There are signs that Nitrogen Dioxide levels are also decreasing but not fast enough.  The extension of the ULEZ should bring about significant improvement. 

·         The Mayor of London has funded some major projects including a London wide anti idling project to help change perceptions and make people more aware of the dangers and a non-road mobile machinery project.  Compliance has been high and these schemes have worked well. 

·         Recently there had been a project to create a green wall made of ivy outside Bowes School.  This had been successfully in reducing nitrogen dioxide emission levels, on the school side of the wall, by 20%. 

·         The London Bus Low Emission Zone had also been a success.  This had involved all buses travelling between Seven Sisters and Edmonton meeting Euro 6 emission level. 

·         Everyone had a responsibility to reduce emissions. 


2.            Questions/Comments


2.1       Thanks to Ned Johnson for his interesting presentation. 


2.2         Support for the green wall initiative and anti-idling measures. 


2.3         Concern that the low traffic neighbourhood schemes were pushing more traffic onto the North Circular. 


2.4         The suggestion, which had first been made more than 20 years ago, that the North Circular outside Bowes School should be put into a tunnel.  This was unlikely to happen in the current economic climate. 


2.5         Concern about the position of Bowes School and the suggestion that it should be closed if it was unsafe.  Assurances that the Council would not allow children to attend if levels of pollution were unsafe. 


2.6         There was a need for a shift away from car use which would hopefully gradually take place over the next 5-10 years and should lead to improvements in the levels of traffic and pollution, making the North Circular into a very different road. 


3.            Summing up from the Chair


Thanks to Ned Johnson for his very informative presentation and support for the green wall concept.  It would be good if this could be extended.  Ned Johnson informed the Chair that an Air Quality Audit was being undertaken and if funds allowed measures like this could be extended.