Camden Council first in London to adopt tougher air quality standards

At the Full Council meeting last night (Monday 29 January), Camden Council became the first borough in London and the country to adopt stretching new pollution limits in line with those established by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Councillor Adam Harrison, Cabinet Member for Improving Camden's Environment
“The current measures risk suggesting to the public that the level of Particulate Matter in our air is acceptable; it is not. The new, more stringent, limits we have adopted are a better reflection of the danger that Particulate Matter poses to us all.

“Cleaning up London’s air is one of the major challenges of our era. To really make progress, we need to be honest about how serious the problem is and then collectively throw all our weight and efforts behind driving air pollution right down.”
Councillor Adam Harrison, Cabinet Member for Improving Camden's Environment

Camden, alongside the majority of London, exceeds legal limits for Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2). Camden currently meets legal limits for Particulate Matter (PM). However, there is not considered to be a safe limit for this form of pollution. Air pollution is associated with a number of adverse health impacts and particularly affects the vulnerable: children and older people, and those with pre-existing heart and lung conditions.

Because of this, Camden is classified as an Air Quality Management Area, which gives the Council statutory duties to monitor air pollution and produce and implement an action plan to help reduce pollution levels.

Councillor Harrison continued: “We know that we cannot reach the WHO limits on our own, but want to work with people living and working in Camden and the Mayor of London to strive towards these. There is no safe level of Particulate Matter, but there are many more things that we can do.”

The Council is also launching a supporting air quality campaign to help drive the improvement in air quality. This will be addressed through methods such as encouraging more people to walk and cycle more; continuing to monitor the level of pollutants in the air, particularly next to schools; encouraging schools and parents to take up school travel plans and reduce the number of car journeys used on the 'school run'; taking action on engine-idling by issuing fines against it, and involving community activism to engage on the issues.

You can read more information on the motion and debate here.