Improving air quality

Tower Hamlets completed its first review and assessment in January 2000. This assessment concluded that the national air quality objectives for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and fine particulate matter (PM10) would not be met within Tower Hamlets by the relevant deadlines.

In December 2000, an Air Quality Management Area was subsequently declared within the borough. The report also established that the major source of pollution within the borough is from vehicles. Other sources include construction sites, commercial and industrial activities and central heating systems.

An Air Quality Action Plan was finalised and published in December 2003. The plan outlines measures for improving air quality within the borough in collaboration with various internal and external stakeholders. The new Air Quality Action Plan is being developed and should be published early 2017.

Air pollution monitoring

Tower Hamlets has two different networks of monitoring stations, both continuous and passive monitoring networks that provide information in various time periods. Various pollutants are measured including the criteria pollutants for Tower Hamlets viz. PM10 and NOx. All data from the monitoring networks are used to identify trends and hot-spots, the measurements are also used for predicting future pollution levels by conducting dispersion modelling. The data is also used to feed into the UK national air quality strategy.

What we’re doing:

Planning and Policy Control - Planning applications are evaluated and assessed to identify possible impacts on air quality and recommend mitigation measures. This includes energy efficiency.

Fleet Management and Clean Fuel – A fleet register has been developed with an emissions inventory for council and contractors vehicles. We encourage the use of alternatively powered vehicles e.g. the Pest Control Section of Tower Hamlets uses a fleet of electric vans. We are in the process of initiating a driver training program for employees.

Physical Traffic Management and Parking Control – This includes the introduction of speed limits, traffic routing. Also the review of parking fees and other charges to reduce car use.

Travel Plans – This includes encouraging local cycling, walking.

Zero Emissions Network (ZEN)– an air quality initiative set up to help businesses save money and reduce emissions.

Barts Health Cleaner Air Project - A joint project with Barts Health Trust, City of London, Newham and Waltham Forest aiming to reduce emissions from hospitals and surrounding communities and improving the awareness of air pollution impacts on vulnerable people.

London-wide initiatives

The council participates in various initiatives on a London – wide scale. These include:

What you can do:

  • Use public transport where possible rather than driving

  • Avoid driving short distances

  • Car share

  • Walk or cycle! See our cycling pages for further information on cycling maps and routes and how to get free cycle training

  • Sign up to airText and get alerts when pollution is high

  • Plan your journey to avoid highly polluted routes