Residents in Hackney have been urged by Hackney Council to stop burning wood and coal in a new campaign to improve air quality in London.
The campaign is being supported by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and is run by the Zero Emissions Network who help businesses and residents in London to save money, reduce emissions and improve local air quality.
Staff from ZEN will be knocking on the doors of Hackney residents to highlight to them the dangers of using fireplaces and wood burning stoves.
Fran Graham, Campaigns Coordinator for the London Cycling Campaign, a charity campaigning for London’s cyclists and a healthier environment said: “At the moment we’ve got an air pollution crisis in London. We’re also facing a climate emergency so any move that a council can make to reduce air pollution and carbon emissions is a good thing”.
Graham said that London and the council must also take into account other contributors to bad air quality in the city, with road transport being a major factor alongside wood and coal emissions.
She said the way this can be done is to make improvements to public transport, walking and cycling and by encouraging people to use more sustainable and active modes of transport.
Hackney Councillor Jon Burke, Cabinet Member for Energy, Waste, Transport and Public Realm said: “Fireplaces and wood burning are a discretionary luxury in almost everywhere except most rural locations. Stoves and open fires produce vast amounts of both planet heating carbon dioxide and toxic particulate matter that contributes to the premature deaths of thousands of Londoners every year through respiratory illness, cancer and heart disease”.
Burke said that the council were urging residents to stop wood burning and for businesses reliant on solid fuel for cooking to use the cleanest products available.
As well as speaking with residents, ZEN will also be visiting businesses that use wood or charcoal cooking equipment to check that they are compliant with Defra regulations, whilst encouraging them to switch to the less polluting gas or electric appliances.
Hackney Council said on their website that research has proven that one modern wood stove emits the same amount of particulate matter, a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air, every hour as 18 diesel cars.
They said that between 23 and 31 percent of urban particulate matter in London emanates from wood burning and can cause health problems such as asthma, cancer and heart attacks.
Hackney is already classed as a designated smoke control area. This means that it is an offence to release black smoke from a chimney or fixed boiler anywhere in the borough according to Hackney Council’s website.