90% of Square Mile to meet WHO NO2 air quality guidelines by 2025

Plans to improve air quality in the Square Mile have been approved by the City of London Corporation’s Policy & Resources Committee today.

Its new Air Quality Strategy aims for 90% of the City to meet World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines for nitrogen dioxide by 2025. The proposals also support the Mayor of London’s drive for London to meet WHO air quality guidelines for particulates by 2030.

The City Corporation will collaborate with every school in the Square Mile to roll out Air Quality Action Plans, building on a successful partnership work at Sir John Cass’s Foundation Primary School. Last year, air pollution at the City school fell below the legal annual limit for the first time since monitoring began in 2003. The City Corporation has installed a 24-hour air quality monitoring station in the playground, planted ‘air quality plants’ throughout the grounds, created green walls made from ivy screens, added new air filtration units in classrooms and brought in lessons on reducing exposure to air pollution.

Monitoring shows air quality in the City is already improving. And under the new plans, the City Corporation will accelerate its use of zero emission vehicle technology, requiring only low and zero-emission vehicles through its contracts and encouraging other City businesses to use cleaner vehicles. The move brings the City Corporation a step closer to realising its goal of being the first UK authority to run a fully zero-emission fleet.

The authority will also make better air quality data available to the public by supporting the trial of new monitoring technology.

The new policy will work in tandem with its Transport Strategy – which features plans to turn parts of the Square Mile into zero-emissions zones by 2022, and its draft City Plan, which would require all new developments to include a greening element, improving air quality and biodiversity.

The City Corporation is also working with London Councils, which represents all London boroughs, to introduce an Emissions Reduction Bill, which would allow a London Local Authority to designate itself as an ‘Air Quality Improvement Area’, when levels of air pollution are higher than WHO air quality guidelines. The proposals would enable a borough to place restrictions on boilers, diesel generators, construction excavators and combined cooling, heat and power plants, , that exceed an emissions limit set by the Secretary of State.

Catherine McGuinness, Policy Chair for the City of London Corporation, said

“These plans will lead to a significant improvement in the Square Mile’s air quality.

“Londoners demand clean air. We are determined to ensure that the City Corporation continues to play a leading role in the UK’s drive to meet air quality standards.

“Our work is already having a positive effect, and we will continue to push for change, embracing new and ambitious approaches to tackling this health crisis.”

Jeremy Simons, Chair of the City of London Corporation’s Environmental Services Committee, said:

“This is an important step towards cleaner air.

“Nobody should have to breathe dirty air, and we will continue to take bold and ambitious steps to protect health of our residents, workers and visitors.

“There is a huge public desire to see a major clean-up of the capital’s air. And by working together with our partners we are taking action to make sure people are not at risk.”

The new Air Quality Strategy is just one part of the City Corporation’s fightback against air pollution.

The authority has already banned the purchase of diesel vehicles for its own fleet of vehicles, where there is a clean market alternative, and introduced emissions-based charges for on-street parking.

Its CityAir app provides 30,000 Londoners with low pollution travel routes across the capital, with advice and alerts when air pollution is high.

And in partnership with the London Borough of Camden, and with support from the Mayor of London’s Air Quality Fund, it will launch a pan-London idling engine action project this year.


Notes to Editors

About the City of London Corporation

The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally successful UK. www.cityoflondon.gov.uk

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Carl Locsin, Media Officer, City of London Corporation

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