Good news for Nine Elms air quality

Published: Friday 2nd February 18

Air quality in Nine Elms has improved dramatically as the council continues to work with contractors to reduce pollution from construction sites.

The reduction, which has happened despite the fact that the area is home to Europe’s largest construction project, has been put down to close and effective working with the companies building the new homes, offices and shops in Nine Elms.

In 2017 levels of particles (PM10) in Nine Elms breached the daily mean EU limit* 13 times. This compares to 43 times in 2016.

The council has a task force set up to monitor the issue and employs a dedicated construction site compliance officer who regularly inspects sites to make sure they are sticking to the air quality conditions set out in the development’s  planning conditions and that they are doing as much as is practically possible to minimise air pollution. More recently the council also employed an air quality officer to work with the whole Nine Elms community, including schools, to improve air quality.

Wandsworth is a member of the London Low Emission Construction Partnership (LLECP), working with other London boroughs and Kings College London to reduce the air quality impacts from building work. Several sites in Nine Elms have been working with the LLECP on dust and emission reduction trials.  

The good news from Nine Elms comes shortly after new data from air quality stations in Putney High Street showed a sharp reduction in nitrogen dioxide levels. Much of this has been put down to the introduction of low emission buses, which the council lobbied for as part of its Air Quality Action Plan. Traffic flow improvements and a ban on delivery vehicles have also contributed.

The council’s environment spokesman Jonathan Cook said: “This news from Nine Elms is very welcome, especially so soon after we learnt that our efforts in Putney have also paid off.”

“The regeneration of the borough is excellent news for jobs, homes and other opportunities for our residents, but we know large construction schemes can have an adverse affect on our air. That’s why we will continue to make sure developers are sticking to the environmental conditions we imposed when we granted planning permission, and why will we continue to work with them, the community and other partners to keep on top of this issue. “

Wandsworth’s Air Quality Action Plan sets out measures to tackle the sources of pollution - including traffic, boilers and construction - as well as education and awareness campaigns, lobbying, a borough wide air quality monitoring programme and partnership work.

Initiatives include:

· 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.

· A series of no-idling events near schools to persuade drivers to switch off car engines while they wait to pick up their children.

· Advising new building developments and infrastructure projects in Nine Elms on reducing dust and diesel pollution

· Supporting the 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

· Read the Air Quality Action Plan

· Volunteer to become an Air Quality Champion

Notes to Edtors

*The daily EU limit is 50 μg m-3 not to be exceeded more than 35 times a year.

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Recent comments

Having lived in Nine Elms for 16 years, why is this the first time i am made aware of construction air quality breaches ? Why was this not headline news in WBC's newsletters during the the 43 breaches in 2016 i wonder ?! And yet councillor Cook has the nerve to proclaim " That’s why we will continue to make sure developers are sticking to the environmental conditions we imposed when we granted planning permission..." !?!
D. Spring

3 February 2018

A rider to my comment: when is the Council going to reinforce the idling bans? I saw a Council mini-bus idling by a bus stop, while the driver sat inside reading a newspaper. Possibly more notices?
susan lofthouse

3 February 2018

Recent readings through the Which website were not good, so the more that can be done, the better. My asthma started returning three years ago, and I no longer walk along Nine Elms to Vauxhall - a double health whammy.
susan lofthouse

3 February 2018

I am glad to read that there is an initiative to reduce the air polution in Nine Elms. As a resident on Riverlight and then Embassy Gardens, I can say the pollution here is terrible and is really affecting my allergies (which I mildy suffered from before moving here but they got worse since). i had to invest in an indoor air purifier. I would love to see the 20mph speed limit being applied on Nine Elms Lane and more speed limit control for the supercars constantly revving engines here with complete disregard to anyone else. Thank you for taking time to read my comments.

2 February 2018

The dirty diesel buses you removed from Putney High Street were sent over to Tooting instead where they go past a number of schools and even through St Georges hospital. What's your timeframe for phasing out all diesel buses in Wandsworth Jonathan.
Lois Davis

2 February 2018