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Tackling the air pollution crisis in Cally

March 13, 2017
Traffic Cally Rd and Copenhagen Street

Caledonian Road has about 18,000 vehicles a day

KX gyratory Islington monitoring locations (crop).jpg

Caledonian Road (south) air pollution monitoring stations

London is suffering an air pollution crisis which may be worse than the great smogs of the 1950s. These prompted the Clean Air Act which prohibited the burning of coal. Mayor Sadiq Khan has declared that London now faces an equally severe “public health emergency” which requires radical measures.

Some of the worst air quality in London is in the southern part of Caledonian Ward. Air pollution maps record a high level of emissions along the Euston/Pentonville Road corridor and the gyratory road system. The whole area from Copenhagen Street south is dangerously polluted.

In 2015-16, Islington Council undertook an extensive air monitoring exercise around the Islington gyratory triangle – York Way, Wharfdale Road and Caledonian Road (see map).

This revealed pollution around the whole area averaging more than 50% above “acceptable levels”. In some places monthly pollution peaked almost twice as high.

In addition to over a thousand homes in this area, we have 3 primary schools – Copenhagen, Blessed Sacrament and Winton – and a Council nursery/children’s centre. A City Hall report published in 2016 revealed that these schools were in the “worst 20” most air polluted schools in London.

Islington Council has backed the Mayor’s plans to introduce a new Emissions Surcharge so that, from October 2017, all the most polluting vehicles driving into Central London will pay a daily extra £10 on the Congestion Charge. The Mayor will also implement the Ultra Low Emission Zone in 2019 which will include all of Islington.

Islington Council is also the first Borough in London to urge Sadiq Khan to ban diesel vehicles from the capital’s roads. The borough called on the Mayor to join Paris, Madrid and Mexico City in getting rid of the most polluting vehicles within a decade. In response, Mayor Khan has said that “nothing is off the table” and he will use all the powers available to him. But he has called for the Government to help-out and introduce a scrappage scheme for diesels.

Islington, Camden and TfL are working to bring forward plans to change the Kings Cross gyratory roads and a series of worked-up options should be published for public consultation in the next few months. Cally Councillors have lobbied hard to get through traffic taken off residential roads and to eliminate unnecessary TfL bus movements around south Cally.

But we also need some practical measures locally. These will now include:

  • A review of back-streets around the worst affected primary schools to reduce through traffic
  • A campaign to increase public awareness of the pollution associated with driving kids to schools
  • Enforcing Islington Council’s “no-idling” policy in Cally
  • Getting Camden to make changes on Goods Way to stop lengthy traffic queuing on York Way
  • Putting-in a width restriction on Copenhagen Street to enforce the HGV ban
  • Stopping the “rat-run” on Carnoustie Drive
  • Installing electric points on the canal and ban moored boats from burning wood and using generators

Cally Councillors backed these moves to substantially reduce air pollution, especially to cut the risks for older people and children. All the evidence shows that traffic pollution harms the growth of children’s lungs, raises the risk of allergies and asthma and can affect children’s brain development. Research shows that children’s behaviour is linked to air pollution and is linked to anxiety, depression and attention deficit disorder.

Councillor Paul Convery said: “London’s air pollution is an invisible killer. Mayor Khan’s determination to curb harmful vehicle emissions is a great step forward. But he needs Government help to take toxic diesels off our streets. There is a lot we can do locally too so Islington Council and Cally Councillors will do our bit to reduce traffic, encourage walking, cycling and use of public transport.”

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