Opportunities and ideas debated at Camden Air Quality Conference

This week, Wednesday 2 November, well over 100 residents, students, businesses, council officials and campaigners came together in Camden to take action against poor air quality.

Poor air quality in London has a major impact, with 9,000 people annually, across the Capital, losing their life as a result of dangerous levels of pollution.

Attendees heard from Councillor Meric Apak, Cabinet Member for Sustainability and Environment; Simon Birkett, Director of Clean Air in London; and Elliot Treharne, Air Quality Manager at the GLA. They outlined what action was being taken at a national, regional and borough-wide level and the opportunities that may lie ahead. 

At a series of breakout sessions that followed, residents had a chance to share their own ideas and solutions to tackling poor air quality, as well as the factors they felt contributed.

During the breakout sessions everything was up for discussion: anti-idling, car free days, reducing demand for delivery vehicles and the restriction of high polluting cars were debated. While a call for wider monitoring and enforcement, investment in electric cars and charging facilities, work place parking charges and more schools’ schemes were also made. 

Keir Starmer MP, who recently pledged to make tackling poor air quality one of his key priorities, helped bring the event to a close by chairing a Q&A with the conference speakers. Councillor Meric Apak said “he would consider all suggestions” and outlined the six main points he’d take away from the conference in a bid to improve the air we breathe. They were: 

  • introduce car free days
  • move towards diesel-free boroughs
  • promotion of electric transport
  • more trees and green spaces
  • moving towards more measurement and target setting in the Camden Air Action Plan
  • work more closely with schools to tackle air quality.

Councillor Meric Apak, Cabinet Member for Sustainability and Environment said: “Air pollution has a major impact on all of us and action must be taken. There was a fantastic turn out of people at last night’s conference, many who hadn’t got involved in the air quality debate before. There is a real enthusiasm across the borough to see change and to tackle this problem together.”

Simon Birkett, Founder and Director of Clear Air in London said: “People should be warned about the dangers of air pollution and given advice on protecting themselves and reducing pollution for themselves and others. Residents can play their part by acting as the eyes and ears of local government to identify opportunities to reduce air pollution and also encourage action by every level of government. In particular, I urge everyone to spend a few minutes responding to the Mayor of London’s air quality consultation.” 

The conference came on the day the High Court ruled in favour of Client Earth’s challenge against the government’s UK National Action Plan, instructing them to improve the current plan and take immediate action to address high levels of nitrogen dioxide. 

To find out more about how we’re tacking air quality in Camden visit: