Putney air pollution plummets

Published: Friday 19th January 18

Air pollution levels in Putney High Street have fallen sharply over the past year, new figures show.

Cllr Cook

Data from a council’s air monitoring station on the façade of a building in in Putney High Street show that in 2017 levels of nitrogen dioxide in the air were breached eight times. This means a target of not breaching them more than 18 times in a year has easily been beaten.

In comparison, in 2016 they were breached 403 times. In 2012 there were 1726 breaches – meaning that since then there has been a 99 per cent reduction in breaches. Mean levels of nitrogen dioxide recorded at a kerbside monitoring station show a reduction from 98 in 2016 to 60 in 2017

The fall in pollution coincides with the introduction of cleaner buses along the street and the introduction last year of a Low Emission Bus Zone. More than 100 buses an hour use Putney High Street, but in 2012 a unique research project by Wandsworth Council exposed the bus fleet as responsible for over 80 per cent of nitrogen dioxide build ups.

The findings were presented to Transport for London to convince it to put routes serving Putney at the front of the queue when switching to greener buses. Now the council is urging Mayor Sadiq Khan to take polluting buses off all the borough’s streets.

The council has also made improvements to Putney High Street’s layout and traffic signals to ease queuing, and a ban on delivery vehicles stopping to unload has been introduced to reduce congestion further.

The council’s environment spokesman Jonathan Cook said: “Our campaign to ban polluting buses from Putney High Street and our ban on daytime deliveries have both been significant factors in cutting the congestion which contributes to pollution build ups.

“Progress has been excellent so far, but there’s no room for complacency. We will continue to work to reduce air pollution in Putney and across the borough as set out in our Air Quality Action Plan.

“We will also continue to lobby the Mayor to ensure all the bus routes serving Wandsworth use low-emission buses – not just those in pollution  hotspots. All our residents deserve cleaner air, and this fall in Putney’s pollution  proves that our focus on buses was correct.”

Wandsworth Council is taking a wide range of actions to tackle air pollution in the borough, including:

  • Training members of the council’s civic enforcement team how to explain to drivers of stationary vehicles why they should not leave engines running. If drivers refuse to switch engines off they can issue fixed penalty notices.
  • Recruiting and training air quality champions.
  • A rolling programme of environmental theatre productions in local schools to teach children how their travel choices affect air quality.
  • Advising new building developments and infrastructure projects in Nine Elms on reducing dust and diesel pollution
  • Supporting Clean Air Day and encouraging local people to make clean air pledges
  • Helping schools develop School Travel Plans which reduce the number of cars used on the school run through initiatives like 'walking buses' and car pools.
  • Championing car clubs which dramatically reduce total vehicle use and take older, more polluting cars off the road. Wandsworth now has the highest car club membership in London.
  • Providing a comprehensive network of electric vehicle charging points.
  • Promoting cycling and investing in the borough’s cycle network. Wandsworth now has the fastest growing cycling rate in the country according to Government statistics.
  • Free bike safety lessons for children and adults to give more residents the confidence and skills they need to start cycling.
  • Introducing a borough-wide 20mph speed limit.
  • Restrictions on delivery vehicles in busy high streets
  • A free airTEXT messaging service warns residents when high pollution levels are forecast.
  • Lobbying for higher capacity rail, bus, riverbus and tube services so more residents can switch from cars to public transport.
  • Lobbying for cleaner buses
  • For more information about the work being carried out locally to improve air quality, visit www.wandsworth.gov.uk/airquality.
  • Read the Air Quality Action Plan


Note to Editors

Although the figures for the first six months are confirmed, the figures for the last six months of 2017 are provisional, so are subject to change. 

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Recent comments

putney has always had a bus garage, and a taxi rank at the top of the high street, these are soley responsible for all the pollution on the high street, its a model for the whole of london on how infact anywhere with high levels of bus and taxi activity have bad pollution, why is wandsworth high street not so polluted? no taxi rank or bus station, same for piccadilly, now we know who the culprits are can we have refund on some of the schemes youve spent on while blaming the cars for pollution?

22 January 2018

The buses are only partly responsible. The black taxis must take some responsibility for those noxious fumes, the sit with their engines on all day and night. Councillor Cook what are you going to do about this?
Paulette Ward

19 January 2018

Why so many buses going down that road - apart from rush hour which I never see (retired) they are mostly empty anyway - difficult because I know folks want them at off peak times (was often the only passenger on a bus from Barbican to Waterloo when I finished an after retirement job at 3pm). But surely some sort of arrangement where only one bus travels down the High St - small bus - sort of shuttle service - where they can pick up the bus they want from Putney Bridge & Upper Richmond Road - inconvenient for some but if it is a fairly regular service - it wont be as bad as those tall doube deckers.
Elizabeth Denton

19 January 2018

This story was trailed in the Wandsworth e-newsletter as follows: "Levels of air pollution in Putney High Street have fallen by 99% following the introduction of cleaner buses". The statistic quoted only means that the rate at which NO2 levels have exceeded targets has dropped by 99% - NOT that pollution has dropped by 99%. In fact, they are still breaching the target level 8 times a year. From this data we have no idea by how much pollution has actually been reduced - just that levels are falling. There is also no data quoted in the article which illustrates that the reduction has been "sharp".
Analysis needed

19 January 2018