Tower Hamlets Mayor announces £200,000 community fund to combat air pollution

Mayor John Biggs with school children fight pollution. Pic: Tower Hamlets Council

Mayor John Biggs with school children fight pollution. Pic: Tower Hamlets Council

Tower Hamlets residents hoping to help improve air quality in the borough – ranked fifth worst in London – are being urged to apply for grants from a £20,000 fund announced this week by the council.

The council has set up an application process, which is open for anyone to apply via a form on the council’s website.

The announcement by the mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs follows research from King’s College London showing children between eight and nine are set to have reduced lung function due to air pollution in the area – five to 10 per cent below the national average

Out of all Tower Hamlets residents, 40 per cent live in areas where pollution levels exceed EU guidance. 

Biggs said: “It is shocking that there is an air quality lottery in London.  Residents from poorer boroughs are twice as likely to die from lung cancer and other lung diseases compared to people in London’s most well-off boroughs.

“We are working with the health services, Transport for London and our key partners to get people out of their cars and to help introduce cleaner forms of transport across the borough.

“I would urge residents to find out what they can do locally to protect children from the dangers of air pollution, and to think about projects that could benefit their neighbourhoods through this funding.” 

Councillor Rachel Blake, Cabinet Member for Air Quality, said: “We are committed to doing all we can to improve air quality in Tower Hamlets. Air pollution that exceeds recommended levels negatively impacts on our residents’ health and our environment.

“This funding is a great opportunity for residents to get involved in developing projects that can make a real difference to their local community.”     

 Vehicles emissions are the main cause of pollution in the borough. Other causes of air pollution are onsite energy generation, commercial and industrial activities, central heating systems and construction sites. 

There are four stations monitoring air quality in the borough. The stations are located in Mile End, Victoria Park, Millwall Park and Blackwall Tunnel Approach. They measure pollutants, such as Nitrogen Dioxide and Sulphur Dioxide, giving pollution records in real time. 

 The council also has 90 Nitrogen Dioxide Diffusion tubes installed across the borough, which collect data. The data is used to identify trends and hotspots, forecast future pollutant levels and follow the progress of the borough’s implemented air quality action plan. 

Results of real time monitoring can be found on the Air Quality England website.

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