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Clearing the air

Ealing Council has published its plan to improve air quality and reduce pollution in the borough, laying out its ambition to improve the air that we all breathe.

Recent studies estimated that as many as 165 premature deaths in the borough each year are related to long-term exposure to air pollution.

Ealing’s new air quality strategy outlines in detail what the council intends to do to help improve local air quality, how partners and residents can help with this, and how we can work together to protect the health of everyone who lives and works in the borough.

The strategy has several key themes:

• reducing traffic emissions, with actions ranging from making walking and cycling more accessible to improving emissions from the council’s own vehicles
• improving indoor air quality, particularly looking at retrofitting homes to reduce emissions from traditional gas boilers
• reducing the impact of new and existing developments by assessing and controlling pollution from emissions of odour and dust
• creating new parks and green spaces, planting more trees and improving local biodiversity

Road traffic continues to be the biggest contributor to dirty air in Ealing, so the council is prioritising making it easier for residents to walk and cycle. New bike hangars have been rolled out across the borough, doubling the number available, with Ealing’s bike hangar permits the cheapest in London. There are now 24 school streets in the borough, reducing traffic fumes at school drop off and collection times and the council has also ramped up fines for unnecessary idling to the maximum allowed by law.

Our green spaces help clean up our air and the council has announced the creation of a new regional park for Ealing, which will act as a green lung down the centre of the borough. Ealing has also announced one of the biggest tree planting programmes in the capital, with 50,000 new trees due to be planted by 2026.

The council’s strategy highlights the importance of raising awareness of the issue of air quality, by providing clear and accurate information on pollution levels to residents – and by engaging with community groups and businesses on the issue.

It also explains how the council and its partners intend to monitor and review the actions set out in the strategy.

Air pollution across the UK, and in our borough in particular, has reduced in recent decades. However, levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM2.5) are still high here and across the rest of London.

Councillor Deirdre Costigan, the council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for climate action, said: “The need for a joined-up air quality strategy is clear. There is increasing scientific evidence linking exposure to air pollution to a whole range of health issues, including mental health and increased risk of dementia and on the health of unborn and newborn babies.

“The risks affect the most vulnerable groups, including children, pregnant women, and the elderly. Our strategy outlines how we are using school streets, cycle lanes, anti-idling measures, new parks and tree planting, and construction enforcement powers to reduce air pollution in the borough and to offer advice on how residents can reduce their own exposure to dirty air.”

The air quality strategy (AQS) is available here.

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