We look at two excellent projects being carried out in London by Camden Council and the City of London Corporation, who are working to improve air pollution levels in the capital.
At a time when creating a healthier, greener environment is more important than ever, many local authorities are trying to find ways to contribute to this effort. With this very much at the forefront of their thinking, Camden Council and the City of London Corporation have taken the bold move to reduce the size of their fleets and begin purchasing newer, cleaner vehicles.
In London alone, it is believed that around 9,400 deaths per year are attributable to poor air quality. These authorities are seeking to reduce this figure significantly. Camden Council has reacted by publishing their commitments in the Green Action for Change Environmental Sustainability Plan (2011-2020) in January 2016. Meanwhile, the City of London Corporation have said that the new fleet policy is the latest in a number of new measures specifically created to tackle air pollution.
The aim is to ensure that they are complying with the air quality objectives for N02 and for PM10 concentrations. Keeping these low is the key to better air quality in the area. This is in accordance with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s Air Quality commitment and the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) congestion zone coming into force in 2020.
As of 2015, Camden were continuing to comply with PM10 levels, and their levels are now reducing. However, the authority remained in breach of the annual mean N02 objective. It was clear that something had to change. They looked to innovation within their fleet to deliver that change.
Currently, Camden Council have 284 LPG/petrol vehicles, 120 compressed natural gas (CNG), 18 hybrids (petrol/electric), and 1 electric vehicle. As well as these, they also use 134 diesel vehicles. 60 of these are hired, giving them the potential to move towards a more sufficient number of greener vehicle types across the full fleet used by Council services in the future. Now, they have pledged not to buy any more diesel vehicles as part of the Council’s fleet. It is a great step forward.
In the City of London, plans to cut emissions have been going well, with 40% less N02 in the air today than there was in 2009. Over the same time period, they have also managed to cut their PM10 levels by over 50%. This excellent progress has been made possible through reducing the size of their fleet, as well as ensuring that they have invested in greener vehicles. Now, the Corporation intend to work with their partners to stop buying diesel vehicles altogether, instead favouring a fleet made of low and zero emission vehicles.
There are some slight drawbacks to using a greener fleet; these vehicles do carry an initial premium and making plans to change a whole fleet, no matter how slow the change, can seem like a huge undertaking for local authorities at this moment in time. However, the benefits vastly outweigh the drawbacks. Money will later be saved in healthcare, and better air quality will vastly improve the wellbeing of the community. Cleaner air will make a huge difference to the residents and workers of London. As such, schemes like this are ultimately about forward-thinking, which is exactly where Camden and the City of London have got it right.
Both councils have said they are proud to welcome new fuel technologies and remain committed to trialling green options to assess whether they are fit for their own purposes, as well as the needs of their residents.