Santa puts air pollution on his Naughty List

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Santa visited Tower Hamlets early this year to share some festive cheer and encourage everyone to take time over the holidays to apply for an air quality fund. 

The legendary figure worked between 11am and 2pm on 20 December to raise awareness about air pollution and encourage community groups, residents, schools and local businesses to deliver projects that improve air quality and associated health benefits in their neighbourhoods.

He chose an environmentally friendly cargo bike to hand out goodies to everyone who stops to say hello, as children in Tower Hamlets have up to a 10 per cent reduction in lung capacity and may never get that back.   

Ahead of his journey to Tower Hamlets, Santa said: 

“I took the sad decision to leave my fleet footed friend, Rudolf, behind this year because pollution levels in London are so bad. The redness of his nose shows his tendency to catch colds and air pollution makes it a struggle for him to breathe. 

“Although I will miss him this year, I am determined to do my bit to help tackle air pollution.  We cannot continue to let children suffer. Cargo bikes may be the future for our deliveries.”

Santa also took the chance to remind residents to use environmentally friendly options to heat their home. “Please rethink burning stoves in your homes over winter - but particularly when I am likely to visit,” he urged.

“Stoves emit terrible pollutants into the air and can be deadly for anyone with chest problems. It is also a nightmare to get down the chimney,” he added with a rueful smile.

In Tower Hamlets, 40 per cent of residents live in areas that breach EU and government guidance on safe levels of air pollution. It’s the fifth worst borough in London for air pollution. Santa is doing all he can to encourage people to come forward with their ideas and projects to help.

To be eligible for air quality funding, projects must be related to either reducing air pollution emissions, reducing air exposure to pollution or increasing awareness of air pollution; be directly relevant to actions in the council’s air quality action plan; have a measurable impact; and have wider community benefits.

Applications close on 31 January 2019. For more information about the funding, email environmental.health@towerhamlets.gov.uk or call 020 7364 5000.

Santa’s visit is part of the council’s #BreatheClean campaign: www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/breatheclean  

Five organisations were given funding from the Mayor’s air quality fund this year.

  • St Luke’s Primary School on the Isle of Dogs: will be installing a new leafy wall around the nursery to help protect infants from toxic car fumes.
  • Poplar Harca Housing Association: will install pollution absorbing plants at its new offices. Staff will swap their cars for cycling with funding for battery powered bikes; and battery-powered landscaping equipment will be trialled to replace 30 diesel tools.
  • Marner Primary School, Bow: is working with up to 100 parents and children to teach them how they can reduce air pollution.
  • Swan Housing Association: is teaching 36 residents how to build their own bikes.
  • Tower Hamlets Community Housing: is installing electric charging points to move away from diesel-powered cleaning vans.
Posted on Thursday 20th December 2018