On National Clean Air Day on 8 October, Waltham Forest Council are pleased to announce the launch of our 10th School Street, 85 new lamp column electrical vehicle charging points across Waltham Forest along with 2 new Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs), our 1st Business Low Emission Neighbourhood (BLEN) and an extra 4,000 new trees to be planted too.
Councillor Clyde Loakes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for the Environment: “We are proud of innovative work to tackle the serious public health issues caused by air pollution through projects such as School Streets, installing more electrical vehicle charging points and introducing more Low Traffic Neighbourhoods. Waltham Forest continues to be a national and international lead on tackling the sources of poor air quality; and as we struggle to deal with the impact of coronavirus, we know there has never been a better time to be implementing and rolling out further some of our proven interventions that do just that.
Even though we’ve made huge improvements so far in relation to air quality, we know there is still more to do. That’s why on National Clean Air Day I’m announcing a further 2 new LTNs, our 10th ‘School Street’, our first Business Low Emission Neighbourhood, a further 85 electric vehicle charging points- all initiatives that improve the air we breathe and so protecting the health of all of our residents, including our youngest and most vulnerable members of society. I’m also pleased to announce that funding has also been agreed, allowing us to plant a further 4,000 trees across Waltham Forest, through the Urban Tree Challenge Fund, Carbon Offset Fund and the Added Value Fund from Urbaser.
Waltham Forest already has a strong track record in tackling those drivers who are unnecessarily idling their engines. In 2019, we ran 18 anti-idling events at schools across the borough, and although we’re unable to host any events this year due to coronavirus, we welcome and continue to support the London-wide #Enginesoff campaign and look forward to celebrating Clean Air Day on 8 October.”
The tenth School Street at Buxton School in Leytonstone, launches on Monday 2 November as part of the South Leytonstone Low Traffic Neighbourhood. School Streets allow more space to be created on the pavements and roads around a school, improving road safety and making social distancing easier for pupils and their families. Existing participating schools have fed back about an increase of pupils choosing active travel, with a 20% increase in the number of pupils walking, cycling and kick-scooting to Willow Brook Primary School, and a 14% increase in pupils kick-scooting to St Joseph’s Catholic Infant School. Waltham Forest Council is currently working with a growing number of schools and we hope to introduce a further 6 School Streets in January 2021.
Waltham Forest Council are committed to improving air quality for residents, visitors and those that work in the borough, and School Streets is just one project that is helping to tackle the issue of air pollution. Over the summer, our 100th electrical charging point was installed, and we’re looking forward to increasing this by a further 85 before the end of the year, making it as easy as possible for residents to choose electric travel. We’re very pleased therefore to announce a further 65 Electrical Vehicle lamp column charging points funded through GULCS (Go Ultra Low City Scheme) and 20 further lamp column charging points funded by the OLEV (Office for Low Emission Vehicles.)
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there is an even more urgent need to improve London’s streets for walking and cycling, to reduce pressure on our road and public transport networks and improve air quality. In August 2020, the Council partnered with Newham Council to create the first joint borough Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN ) by installing an experimental LTN focused on the Forest Gate, Maryland and South Leytonstone areas, and we’re pleased to announce the expansion of this scheme into 2 further areas bounded by Ferndale Road, Montague Road, Cann Hall Road and Leytonstone High Rd and Crownfield Road, Leyton High Road, the A12 and Cathall Road. Normally we would engage with local people before building a scheme such as this. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we need to act quickly to keep our roads safe and we will therefore start construction from 20 October 2020. The views of local people are vital to the success of these schemes and as we have done with Area 1 and Area 2, we will be running our engagement activity alongside implementation of the scheme to capture and respond to local views from the start. Not only is this method of engaging encouraged by central government, it also allows local people to see the immediate effects of the changes and provide feedback on actual real-life experiences.
The council has also secured funding from the Mayors Air Quality Fund to create a Business Low Emissions Neighbourhood (BLEN) in Leytonstone, focusing on improving the links from the town centre area located along Church Lane, High Road Leytonstone and Kirkdale Road, to residential areas such as Upper Leytonstone and Bushwood and green areas such as Wanstead Flats and Bush Wood. This new project will aim to reduce our residents exposure to pollution and improve air quality in and around the main Town Centre area, through a range of active and sustainable travel infrastructure improvements, traffic management measures that prioritise low and zero emissions transport options, behaviour change initiatives, public realm enhancements and increased green infrastructure.
All of the work to improve air quality, supports Idling Action’s Engine’s Off campaign, a new London-wide campaign encouraging businesses and residents to tackle air pollution caused by idling engines. The Idling Action Project, jointly led by Camden Council and City of London Corporation, and supported by the Mayor of London, has been running since 2016 and sees Waltham Forest Council join forces with 29 other London authorities in a bid to cut dangerous vehicle emissions. The renewed call for action comes amidst emerging evidence that air pollution is linked to poor recovery and higher infection rates of the respiratory coronavirus, due to damage caused to the lungs.