Cllr Richard Watts: 'The figures show that most of the pollution in Islington is caused by buses, taxis and lorries driving through the borough – on journeys that do not begin or end here'
Published: 18 October, 2013
by ANDREW JOHNSON
POLLUTION in Islington will not get any better unless Mayor of London Boris Johnson is forced to take action, the Town Hall’s new leader Richard Watts has said.
In opening an air quality summit at the town hall last night (Thursday), which brought together councillors, campaigners and residents, he said that Islington could not go any further on its own.
“We have introduced 20mph zones on all the streets that we control,” he said. “The figures show that most of the pollution in Islington is caused by buses, taxis and lorries driving through the borough – on journeys that do not begin or end here.
“They are on roads controlled by Transport for London, such as Holloway Road and Pentonville Road. What we need to do now is for everyone who is interested in air quality to come together and put pressure on the Mayor.”
Air pollution is thought to be responsible for the high rates of asthma among children and the premature deaths of between 200 and 300 people in the borough a year.
Research carried out by the Green Party and University College London in 2011 revealed that levels of nitrogen dioxide – linked to asthma in children – not only exceeded national and European targets in Islington, but that those measured at child height were twice as bad.
Between 15 and 30 per cent of children in the borough have problems with asthma and more than half the schools are on busy roads – defined as those carrying more than 10,000 vehicles a day.
Last week, the Tribune reported the findings of a project by Year 6 pupils at St John’s Upper Holloway School, in Pemberton Gardens, which found that levels of nitrogen dioxide were twice the limit imposed by the European Union.
Green Party campaigners have criticised the Town Hall over its Roamer pass, which allows short-term parking in town centres. They argue that it encourages short car journeys.
But Councillor Watts dismissed this as “not seeing the wood for the trees”.
“The Roamer has no overall impact on air pollution,” he said.
“Islington has a good track record of tackling air pollution over the last two years. The real issues are Transport for London roads.
"They don’t have a 20mph limit and are overwhelmingly used by lorries and taxis and other diesel vehicles. We have to come together and take this case to the mayor.”