Brixton has some of the worst air pollution in London. Families and residents will hold a “Walk for Clean Air” on Sunday 13 September to raise awareness of, and call for solutions to, the pollution problem. They will meet at 2pm at the top of Rush Common on Brixton Hill and walk to Windrush Square, holding “NO2 air pollution” balloons and carrying a mini clean-fuel London bus.
In Brixton levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) – which is linked to heart and lung diseases – are much higher than the European Union standards. The air quality monitoring station in Brixton Road recorded a whole year’s worth of NO2 in the first week of 2015 alone. Incredibly, in 2014 the same site recorded average annual levels of NO2 nearly four times higher than the EU target – higher than monitoring sites in Oxford Street, Euston Road and the City.
The mayor has announced plans for an ultra low emission zone, which will ban the most polluting lorries, buses and cars. But this will not happen until 2020 – and it will not cover Brixton. While air quality is forecast to improve gradually over the next ten years, it is not acceptable that parts of Brixton look destined to remain polluted for years.
Figures recently published by Kings College London show that in Lambeth alone almost 200 people died in 2010 as a result of exposure to nitrogen dioxide.
One of the walk organisers, Bess Herbert said “If 200 Lambeth residents were being killed every year in road accidents, we would all know about it. But air pollution is a silent, invisible killer. Brixton is a fantastic place to live, but it has a serious pollution problem. That’s why we’ve organised this walk: to raise awareness and to call on the Mayor of London for action and to include Brixton in the Ultra Low Emission Zone.
“We want as many people as possible to join us on Sunday, and give half an hour of their time to show that they want clean air for Brixton.”
The walk will take about half an hour, starting at the top of Rush Common (just below Holmewood Road) on Brixton Hill, and ending up in Windrush Square, where there will be information stalls and children’s activities.
Lambeth Council has recognised this serious public health issue for its residents, and earlier this year Cllr Jennifer Brathwaite launched a petition calling on the Mayor of London to operate only clean buses in Brixton and Streatham.
The group has a Facebook page Lambeth for a Cool Planet