London council accused of putting ‘lives at risk’ with air pollution ‘cover up’

'Everyone has the right to breathe clean air, but we simply can’t tackle air pollution effectively if we fail to measure it,' says Green Party co-leader

Harry Cockburn
Thursday 28 February 2019 14:49
Lambeth Council accused of covering up air pollution crisis

A London council has been accused of “covering up” the borough’s air pollution crisis and “putting citizens lives at risk” by failing to monitor levels of poisonous particles in the air.

Last year air pollution on Brixton Road in Lambeth was so severe it broke its annual legal limit by 30 January - a major improvement on previous year when it was broken in just six days.

This year there is no reading.

Air pollution has gone unchecked in Brixton Road for six months after the street’s monitor broke in August 2018.

Despite repeated requests to Lambeth council to both fix the monitor and install a temporary one until the permanent one until it is repaired, a new device is yet to be fitted.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has previously said the pollution monitor would be fixed by the end of January 2019, but almost a month beyond this deadline, no discernable action has been taken.

Green Party councillor Pete Elliott said he had repeatedly raised the issue, but had not been provided a timeline for repairs or interim measures.

His party’s co-leader and leader of the Green opposition on Lambeth Council Jonathan Bartley said they had been “fobbed off” every time they raised the issue.

”Lambeth Labour is covering up a deadly air pollution crisis,” he said. ”The council is choking its citizens and putting lives at risk by leaving air pollution in one of Britain’s dirtiest streets unchecked. It is unforgivable that pollution levels aren’t being measured, with no temporary systems in place pending repair of the permanent system.

“Greens in Lambeth have continuously raised this with the council and have been fobbed off every time. Everyone has the right to breathe clean air, but we simply can’t tackle air pollution effectively if we fail to measure it. Lambeth Council must install a temporary air pollution monitor in Brixton Road immediately, and fix the permanent one as a matter of urgency.

He added: “There are basic steps Lambeth Council can take to clean up our air and make the borough a healthier place to live and work. As a start we need to see tougher measures on vehicle engine idling, an end to waste incineration, incentives for businesses to use environmentally friendly methods, and proper no-drop off zones around schools. Nationally we desperately need the Government to back a new Clean Air Act fit for the 21st century.”

Councillor Claire Holland, Lambeth Council cabinet member for environment and clean air, told The Independent: “Lambeth Council takes air quality extremely seriously, it is undoubtedly a silent killer and affects our most vulnerable residents the most. To suggest the council is ‘covering up’ the seriousness of the issue ignores the huge amount of work being done to improve air quality in the borough and the vociferous lobbying the council has done around our toxic air. Wild accusations and conspiracy theories only act to trivialise the seriousness of the situation.

“The air quality in central London, and along Brixton Road in particular, is quite simply disgraceful. We have been badly let down by contractors in our efforts to get the air quality monitoring station in Brixton Road back up and running, but work is finally near completion. Diffusion tubes are also installed all over the borough, including three on the site of the Brixton monitoring station, which help us monitor air quality.

She added: “Lambeth Council have done huge amounts of work in monitoring and reporting air pollution, raising awareness and knowledge, lobbying for improvements, and putting measures in place to both reduce pollution and mitigate its effects.”

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