Tackling Pollution With Clean Air Merton

Meeting hears there are illegal air pollution levels in Wimbledon

Air pollution in Merton is at unsafe and illegal levels, a public meeting heard on Tuesday (June 13).

Parents, campaigners and teachers spoke at the meeting organised by Clean Air Merton to express their concerns and call for more action from Merton Council and London Mayor.

Clean Air Merton says over 12,000 people in Merton are exposed to toxic levels of pollution. They add that air pollution increases everyone’s risk of lung cancer and cardiovascular disease, it can stunt children’s lung growth and has been linked to over 9,000 early deaths in London every year.

According to information released by Merton Council, the worst affected roads in the borough are below. All results are measured in ug/m3 (micrograms per metre cubed) – anything over 40 is over the legal limit for nitrogen dioxide.

  • Colliers Wood/South Wimbledon: 64 (Western Rd), 61 (246 Merton Rd), 54 (Haydons Road), 50 (High St Colliers Wood). 
  • Mitcham: 62 (107 London Rd), 57 (35 London Rd), 41 (Church Rd)
  • Morden: 48 (80 Crown Lane), 45 (HSBC, London Rd)
  • Wimbledon: 45 (The Ridgway).

Research from Greenpeace found that 13 nurseries and schools across the borough are situated in areas with illegal air quality.

Dr. Ian Mudway, Respiratory lecturer at Kings College London said: "The evidence clearly shows that air pollution is damaging for our health, particularly for children’s lungs. The life-shortening effects of air pollution are equivalent, if not greater than the risks of obesity, inactivity and alcoholism – we must start dealing with this public health crisis."

Tom Walsh, CEO, Sustainable Merton, said: "It’s simply shocking that we’re being forced to breathe in air that is damaging for our health and for our children’s. We need to see far more action from Merton Council on this – including an expansion to the current monitoring network which doesn’t fairly cover Mitcham and Morden, more 20mph zones and cleaner buses."

Speaking at the meeting, Andrea Lee, Healthy Air Campaigner from ClientEarth said: "The state of London’s air has reached a crisis point. The UK has been breaking the law on pollution since 2010, action is well overdue. We need bold policies across all London boroughs to bring pollution levels down. That’s why we want an Ultra-Low Emission Zone for all of Greater London, to protect people’s health in boroughs like Merton.”

The meeting came in the week that Merton Council revealed Merton Council it has issued nearly 1,000 parking permits for diesel vehicles since introducing its "green levy" two months ago.

It introduced the parking permit levy with the aim of improving health by reducing air pollution and encouraging a switch to less polluting vehicles, as part of the Mayor of London’s pledge to cut air pollution.

Merton agreed to phase in the annual charge over three years charging £90 (2017/18), £115 (2018/19) and £150 (2019/20). To date, 971 resident, business and trade parking permits have been issued.

Owners of electric cars pay £25 a year and the council is installing a network of vehicle charging points to encourage further use. The council estimates it will raise more than £250,000 in the first year with money spent on air pollution, sustainable transport initiatives and infrastructure, such as cycle lanes.

June 16, 2017