Broader positive data behind the pollution near primary schools row

aerial river dawn

The revelation that a quarter of London’s primary schools are in areas that had dangerous levels of nitrogen dioxide in 2010 is a deeply worrying statistic and led to accusations from the newly elected mayor, Sadiq Khan, that his predecessor, Boris Johnson, had buried a 2013 report.

It was commissioned by the Greater London Authority and its findings make alarming reading, especially for those living and working in inner London. More than 2.2 million people were exposed to level of NO₂ above the EU safe limit in 2010 and this included 137,000 children in 433 primary schools.

But the report also contained some surprisingly positive projections on the speed at which the exposure levels will fall by 2020. The projections were based on emissions data from the GLA and pollution mapping data from the Environmental Research Group at King’s College.  The report concluded that by the end of 2015 the population exposed to harmful levels of NO₂ will have fallen to just over a million and will drop significantly further by 2020 with air quality objectives achieved in outer London, at least.

Pollution population no2-2

NO₂ is particularly harmful to children and the report identified 433 schools, mostly in central London, where levels were unsafe in 2010 – the red dots on the map below.

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 19.56.37-2

From Analysing Air Pollution Exposure in London

The situation is considerably better now, if the projections made by the researchers are correct. In 2010, 137,000 children aged 4-11 were affected but that should now be below 50,000. By 2020 the situation will improve further.

NO2 near primaries-2

The researchers also looked at pollution compared to deprivation levels, giving the report added political potency. They found that most of the schools with the highest levels of NO₂ were in districts with the highest levels of deprivation.

This is not due to any causal link between deprivation and pollution but due to the location of the schools near to very busy main roads. These areas may be home to more deprived families because property and rental costs are lower close to busy highways.

Many of the worst affected schools are in areas where poor people are resident but they’re also very close to where bankers and brokers work or where theatre-goers flock each evening – this is a central London problem. High nitrogen dioxide levels are bad for everyone, and as previously reported by Urbs, responsible for thousands of deaths.

There’s a lot of politics in this row over whether the bad news in the report was suppressed.  The new mayor is seeking to show himself as the new broom.  He has hit the ground running on the environment saying that he’ll extend the Ultra Low Emission Zone beyond the Congestion Charge area, as far as the North and South Circular roads, and he’ll introduce it early, in 2017.  Drivers of polluting vehicles will face an extra charge for entering the zone.

As the ‘buried’ report shows, London has a big pollution problem but is heading in the right direction. The task for the mayor will be balancing that progress with the economic growth of the capital as more jobs and people add to the environmental challenge.

Source data

See also

Don’t just blame drivers for harmful NO2 pollution

Election Issues: Balancing economic success with green ambitions

Nearly 9,500 deaths a year – study reveals impact of air pollution

Tests suggest NO2 pollution levels may be higher at child height

Election Issues: Balancing economic success with green ambitions

urban sunsetWhoever becomes London’s new mayor is going to have economic growth and improvement of the environment at the top of their agenda.  But are these two goals compatible?

In 2011 the Mayor set out a climate change strategy that aimed to reduce CO2 emissions to 60% of what they were in 1990 by 2025[1]. 1990 is an internationally recognised baseline that countries used in signing the Kyoto agreement.

2015 is the first big milestone in the Mayor’s plan. By the end of last year emissions should have been down by 20% on 1990 level.  But the most recent data for greenhouse gases in London shows that the capital is off course to hit this target[2].  In 2013 a reduction of only 11% had been achieved. This is better than the 10% of 2012 but falls short of the 13% achieved in 2011.

A breakdown of this number shows the challenge.  Roughly 40% of CO2 emissions come from homes, 40% from workplaces and 20% from transport.  But a fast-growing population, booming economy and a skyline filled with cranes make all three of these categories difficult. Per capita emissions have fallen by 28% since 1990, but that growing population means the total improvement has been much lower.

Not surprisingly, the growth in population has made domestic emissions the toughest to cut, down just 7% since 1990.

Environment chart 1-2

Despite all this, London has the lowest CO2 emissions per head in the UK.  That’s partly down to the way we live.  An example is London’s fastest growing borough, Tower Hamlets.  Not only has it London’s lowest car ownership level – at just 15 per 100 population compared to 49 in nearby Havering[3].  It also has far more energy efficient homes.  Looking at Domestic Energy Performance Certificates, London has 11% of homes in A or B categories compared to 9% across the UK[4].  Tower Hamlets has 27% of homes in these categories – largely due to a concentration of flats, especially new build.

Environment Chart 2-2

A nice side benefit for Tower Hamlets residents comes with their fuel bills – they have the lowest domestic gas consumption in the capital[5].

Recently, the London environment debate has shifted from CO2 greenhouse gases to the air quality issue of NO2.  This came to a head last year with the VW scandal, where drivers hoping to prevent climate change found themselves creating potentially lethal local health hazards.  A report from King’s College estimated that almost 10,000 Londoners were being killed by air pollution each year; most as a result of NO2 emissions[6].

A further study from Policy Exchange[7] estimated that just under a half of NO2 emissions come from road transport – the rest a mix of air and rail transport with domestic and commercial gas use.  In central London buses emerge as a particular issue, together with the gas used to fuel the city centre’s offices and shops.

In 2013, only two of London’s 32 boroughs (Sutton and Bromley) met the annual mean limit on NO2[8], and it took only the first week of 2016 for Putney High Street and Oxford Street to break their annual maximum limit for the whole year[9].

So what effect does air quality have across the capital?  The Kings College study breaks down its estimate of deaths attributable to air pollution by borough. This shows Barnet, Bromley and Croydon with the greatest impact, all having over 400 deaths per annum.

Environment Chart 3-2

Such statistics place huge pressure upon the Mayor to find ways for Londoners to breathe more easily.  The key responsibility of the Mayor’s role is to make London a better place for everyone to live. He or she has to ensure that businesses thrive so the economy of the city grows and delivers jobs while also improving London’s environment.   Achieving either is a huge task. Achieving both simultaneously will be a monumental challenge for whichever candidate wins office.

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[1] https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/environment/environment-publications/delivering-londons-energy-future-mayors-climate

[2] http://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/interim-leggi–2013/resource/4aaba9fa-b382-40bd-a3e3-593c53bed245

[3]  http://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/licensed-vehicles-type-0

[4] http://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/domestic-energy-efficiency-ratings-borough

[5] http://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/gas-consumption-borough

[6] http://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/HIAinLondon_KingsReport_14072015_final.pdf

[7] http://www.policyexchange.org.uk/publications/category/item/up-in-the-air-how-to-solve-london-s-air-quality-crisis-part-1

[8] http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2015-06-26.4471.h&s=speaker%3A11878#g4471.q0

[9] http://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/air-quality-summary-statistics

This report was produced in association with London Live’s election special programme London Votes.

Fuel consumption down but scale of diesel use remains a worry for health

Cab speeds past-2The amount of fuel consumed by vehicles on the roads of London has fallen by nearly a third over the past 10 years.

The biggest reduction has been in personal travel, which includes cars, motorbikes and buses. Fuel usage in these types of transport is down by 31%.  The reduction for freight transport, which includes vans and lorries, is down by 22%. Personal travel accounts for 2½ times the fuel consumed by freight.

As previously reported by Urbs, traffic volumes have gone down by about 7% since 2004 despite a rising population. But the reduction in fuel consumption can also be attributed to better fuel economy for vehicles.

The estimates are based upon data modelling by the Department of Energy and Climate Change and it shows that fuel consumption, like car ownership, is highest in the outer boroughs, particularly those north of the river, such as Enfield, Barnet and Havering. The highest consumption level is in Hillingdon.

Fuel consumption

The estimates look at where fuel is consumed rather than where it was bought so areas with large arterial roads are likely to have higher consumption levels – the M4 running out through Hillingdon or the M1 in Barnet, for example.

The reduction in consumption is good news environmentally but the data reveals a statistic which is having an impact on the city’s air quality – the shift from petrol to diesel cars. In 2004 consumption of diesel was about 20% of the consumption level for petrol. By 2013 it was 67%.

Diesel engines were promoted by the government as they produce lower levels of emissions that contribute to climate change, but they produce higher levels of N02.  Recent research by Kings College found that NO2 is having a far more harmful impact on health than had been previously recognised and responsible for nearly 6,000 deaths a year.

Source data

See also

London leads the way in declining car use but the East is bucking the trend

Nearly 9,500 deaths a year – study reveals impact of air pollution

Most boroughs fail on legal limit for toxic gas that could harm health

Emission targets at risk as growing population hits greener city plan

 

Why where you live is affecting your gas bill

Canary wharf 2-2People living in outer London boroughs are spending more money heating their homes than those living in central areas.

Data on gas consumption over the past 10 years shows that households in boroughs such as Harrow, Barnet, Bromley, Bexley and Richmond are consistently among the highest consumers of gas.

In contrast, Tower Hamlets, Southwark and Islington have the lowest levels of consumption.

In 2014 the average domestic consumption in Harrow was 17,000 kilowatt hours.  In Tower Hamlets it was a little over half that.

Gas consumption map

The nature of the housing stock is likely to be an important factor here.  The larger number of older, bigger homes homes in outer areas need more gas to heat than the smaller flats, both council and privately owned, in inner areas.

Data analysis on areas of the capital with the most energy efficient homes, previously reported by Urbs, shows Tower Hamlets as the leading borough, largely due to the modern development of flats and houses in Canary Wharf and Limehouse.

The area that perform best for energy efficient housing in the map below tend to be the ones with the lower levels of gas consumption in the map above.

energy efficient homes

Source data

See also

Tower Hamlets leads the way for London’s greener homes

Living in the past: The old housing keeping a roof over our heads

Half the city’s homes are flats but London is low in the high-rise stakes

Don’t just blame drivers for harmful NO2 pollution

Bishopsgate-2Central London has a particular problem with potentially deadly air pollution caused by nitrogen dioxide, but it is not all the fault of drivers with diesel cars. Buses and buildings are also playing a significant part.

Transport is the largest single factor in the production of harmful NO2 and the finger is often pointed at cars with diesel engines. These type of vehicles make up 50% of all new sales in the UK and the switch away from petrol, encouraged by the Government, has had some benefit for other types of emissions.

But data analysis by the think tank Policy Exchange on the sources of NO2 in London shows that diesel cars are only part of the story and the figures for Central London are different to that for Greater London as a whole.

Nearly every borough is failing to meet the legal limit for levels of NO2. Long term exposure to high levels can lead to respiratory disease and a recent study by Kings College London, reported by Urbs, estimated that it may be killing 5,800 people a year.

Transport is responsible for 45% of NO2 emission across Greater London. Diesel vehicles including cars, taxis, buses and HGVs account for most of this, with 11% attriibuted to diesel cars, the same as HGVs.

NO2 Greater London

 

The figures for Central London reveal a similar rate of NO2 from transport, but the nature of traffic in the centre of the city means that busess account for 3 times the amount of NO2 produced by diesel cars.

NO2 Central London

The other significantly different factor in Central London is the NO2 emission rate from non-domestic burning of gas, ie powering the offices, shops and businesses. This accounts for a third of NO2 emissions in Central London compared to 8% for Greater London.

The recent Volkswagen emission test scandal has led to renewed concern about the real level of diesel car pollution. But this data shows that while cleaner cars are needed the capital also needs a greener bus service and more energy efficient buidlings to tackle the problem of NO2 more widely.

Up in the Air report, Policy Exchange

See also

Nearly 9,500 deaths a year – study reveals impact of air pollution

Most boroughs fail on legal limit for toxic gas that could harm health

Tests suggest NO2 pollution levels may be higher at child height

105,000 extra secondary pupils pose huge challenge for capital’s schools

Monkey Business Images shutterstock_284502440-1-2

Photo: Monkey Business Images ┃Shutterstock.com

London needs the equivalent of 90 new secondary schools to deal with the growth in pupil numbers over the next decade.

The number of children of secondary school age is projected to rise by 26.5%, and there’ll be an increase of 9% in primary pupils by 2024/25.

The Greater London Authority’s Intelligence Unit made these projections and in the introduction to its report the Deputy Mayor for Education and Culture, Munira Mirza, says: “Meeting the demand for secondary places over the next decade is the foremost educational challenge facing London today.”

The rise in numbers has been driven by an increasing birth rate, up 28% between 2001/02 and 2011/12. The GLA Intelligence Unit also says that there has been a reduction in the number of young families leaving London since the financial crisis of 2008.

This increase in children has already placed pressure on primary schools but it will soon feed into the secondary schools.

Currently there are 394,000 pupils aged 11-15 attending state secondary schools in London. By 2024/25 that number is projected to have grown by 105,000. That’s equivalent to 3,500 secondary school classes.

The GLA’s projections show that the rise in pupils is spread right across the capital. The biggest increase is in Barking and Dagenham with nearly 5,900 additional pupils. Tower Hamlets, Redbridge, Croydon, Brent and Hounslow also see a steep rise in demand. The smallest increase is in Kensington and Chelsea.

Secondary school places

These numbers reflect the increase in demand not a shortfall in school places. A number of pupils might be accommodated through available capacity or new schools or extensions to existing ones that are planned.

However, a projection on the shortfall in places by London Councils (a body that represents the boroughs) reported by Urbs, estimates that 34,000 secondary pupils could be without a school place in the next 5 years alone.

As the GLA report points out, finding a solution will not be quick or easy as building new secondary school takes longer and is more expensive than developing primary schools due to the size and facilities required.

Source data

See also

34,000 pupils could be without a secondary school place in next 5 years

Violence, disruption and drugs – why 20,000 pupils were excluded from school last year

Private school? Depends where you live

Growing illegal dumping problem costs £20 million to clear up

Sebastian Ballard [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http---creativecommons.org-licenses-by-sa-2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons-1.jpg

Photo: Sebastian Ballard ┃CC BY-SA 2.0

Clearing up illegally dumped rubbish cost taxpayers in London nearly £20 million in the last financial year.   8 of the 10 councils in the country with the biggest problem for fly-tipping are in London, and the problem is getting worse with a 12% increase in dumping incidents in the past 12 months.

Newham has the biggest problem in the country, as it did in the previous year, with more than 70,000 incidents recorded. Enfield had more than 50,000, a 57% increase on 2013/14. In comparison there were fewer than 1,000 recorded incidents in Kingston.

The clear up costs in Newham alone came to £3.34 million. Haringey and Enfield are both paying in excess of £2 million and Croydon and Southwark paid more than a million.

Fly-tipping in London
Number of incidents Clear-up costs
Newham 70,192 £3,339,219
Enfield 50,121 £2,015,058
Haringey 25,709 £2,193,945
Southwark 25,583 £1,063,934
Croydon 18,560 £1,568,123

Newham says that the large number of incidents may be down to better reporting thanks to 7-day a week street cleaning and improved technology for recording incidents.

Two thirds of the incidents in Newham involved fly-tipping on roadsides. Among the things dumped were 1,200 so-called white goods, such as fridges and washing machines.

Enfield recorded 1,322 incidents of fly-tipping on railway lines. It is a problem peculiar to the area as next nearest council with such incidents was Lewisham with just 7.

Clearing up in Haringey and Croydon costs double that of the other boroughs with the most substantial problems. The cost per incident in Croydon was £84.48 while in Newham and Enfield it is around half that. Haringey and Southwark recorded a very similar number of incidents but the clear up costs in Haringey are double those of Southwark.

The data gathered from the councils show that Enfield prosecuted 249 people for fly-tipping, more than any other London council. Newham took action in more than 8,000 cases, half of which involved a warning letter. It issued more than 2,000 fixed penalty notices fines and in a statement said that it had prosecuted 318 people for fly-tipping and littering, but no prosecutions for fly-tipping are recorded in the data from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Source data

See also

Fly-tipping hits 5 year high with Newham suffering the biggest problem

London is rubbish at recycling and many boroughs are getting worse

Emission targets at risk as growing population hits greener city plan

 

Tests suggest NO2 pollution levels may be higher at child height

Pollution cars 2Levels of damaging nitrogen dioxide may be higher than official readings show and may be much at much higher levels at child or buggy height, according to a cycling campaign group.

HFcyclists, a campaign group based in Hammersmith and Fulham decided to take their own NO2 readings around the Hammersmith gyratory system and Shepherd’s Bush Green. With the support of the environmental legal group ClientEarth they set up tubes to monitor NO2, which are produced particularly by diesel engines.

Official readings are taken at a height of 3 metres. They placed tubes at different heights at 2 locations. The campaign group found that readings were significantly higher closer to the ground – up to 30% higher at 0.5 metres, the height of a child in a buggy and 25% at 0.8 metres, the height of a pram or a small toddler

NO2graphic-2

Graphic: HFcyclists/ClientEarth

All their readings were in excess of the EU regulatory limit. As reported by Urbs, all but 2 London boroughs are in breach of legal limits and a recent study by Kings College said that NO2 was responsible for 9,500 deaths a year. The same study found that the number NO2 related deaths in Hammersmith and Fulham was one of the lowest in the city.

HFcyclists acknowledge that their modest test over a two-month period earlier this year should be seen as no more than indicative and the proximity of the Hammersmith flyover may have affected the height distribution of NO2. They say that they will continue to monitor to obtain more robust data. But the results raise further concern about the effects of nitrogen dioxide levels in London, particularly for children.

Source data

See also

Nearly 9,500 deaths a year – study reveals impact of air pollution

Most boroughs fail on legal limit for toxic gas that could harm health

Emission targets at risk as growing population hits greener city plan

Global success means London is more at risk from climate change, says report

Canary Wharf buidlingThe economy of London is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and businesses are doing too little to make themselves more resilient, according to a report by a committee of the London Assembly.

London’s vulnerability is not confined to local weather events like flooding or drought, and is due largely to its success as a global financial centre. This inter-dependence with other economies means risk for the financial services sector, and international supply chains could be easily disrupted leading to shortages of products or components.

In its report, Weathering the Storm, the Economy Committee of the London Assembly finds that more than half of the FTSE 100 companies have not built climate change adaptation into their business strategy or continuity planning.

And small and medium size businesses are generally less well prepared with 60% lacking any plan to deal with the impact of extreme weather conditions.


See also

Emission targets at risk as growing population hits greener city plan

Nearly 9,500 deaths a year – study reveals impact of air pollution


The reports says that one problems is a lack of skills in the workforce to help firms develop adaptive strategies and policies to deal with the risk of climate change.

It points to an opportunity for London. It says that the risk from climate change is a global one. There is a growing demand for good, services and infrastructure that can adapt and businesses in the capital may be well placed to provide them.

The committee urges the Mayor, Boris Johnson, to take more action to prepare the city and it companies for extreme weather, both here and globally.

Nearly 9,500 deaths a year – study reveals impact of air pollution

urban sunsetAir pollution is killing nearly 9,500 Londoners each year, more than twice the number previously thought.

The drastic increase is caused by the inclusion for the first time of numbers killed through long-term exposure to nitrogen dioxide, NO2, a pollutant largely blamed on diesel engines.

Experts from the Environmental Research Group at Kings College developed new methods to quantify the effects of NO2 in the study carried out for the Greater London Authority and Transport for London. It is thought to be the first study to capture NO2 related deaths.

Previous estimates were based on the damage caused by small particles in the air caused by pollution, so called PM2.5. A study in 2008 calculated these caused more than 4,000 deaths a year. The new study revises that figure down to 3,537, but the addition of 5,879 deaths attributed to NO2 has dramatically increased the estimated death rate.

As previously reported by Urbs, all but two London boroughs are in breach of EU regulation on NO2 levels. The outer boroughs of Sutton and Bromley were the only ones meeting legal limits last year. But this study, based on 2010 data, shows that Bromley had one of the highest rates of deaths caused by air pollution. Along with Barnet, it has the equal highest mortality numbers, followed by Croydon. These are 3 of the most populous boroughs in London, and they have the most cars.

As our map below shows, Sutton comes around mid range. The lowest estimated death rates are recorded for Kingston and Hammersmith and Fulham.

Air pollution deaths

The study also found that the combined effects of PM2.5 and NO2 were responsible for nearly 2,500 hospital admissions for respiratory problems and 740 for cardiovascular damage.


See also

Most boroughs fail on legal limit for toxic gas that could harm health

Car ownership reveals a tale of 2 Londons

Heathrow gets the nod to expand, but it’s already Europe’s noisiest airport


Researchers based their findings on pollution levels from 2010 as it is the most recent base year data available from the London Atmospheric Emission Inventory, the system set up to gather air pollution information on the capital.

The GLA says that as the data is 5 years old it does not take into account more recent measures to improve air quality, such as the introduction of more hybrid buses to replace diesel vehicles.

The Mayor, Boris Johnson,  has announced an Ultra Low Emission Zone for 2020 to reduce heavy lorries and coaches in the capital. And in releasing the data he called on the UK Government and the EU to do more, as the study says that half the pollution in London comes from outside, including diesel fumes and industry emissions from continental Europe.

The Mayor also used the opportunity to again voice his opposition to the expansion of Heathrow, as recommended by the Airports Commission.

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