Air quality alerts will now be activated on the day before, and during the day of forecasted high air pollution
Air quality alerts at bus stops, tube stations and roadsides across London to notify Londoners during the worst incidents of air pollution will commence this coming Monday August 15th.
Cleaning up London’s air is one of London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s top priorities.
In July his office announced an £11million fund to help some of London’s most polluted boroughs tackle their toxic air. Five Low Emission Neighbourhoods were set-up across eight boroughs including Westminster, Hackney, Islington and Tower Hamlets, City of London, Greenwich, Redbridge and Newham.
Along with this a number of measures such as strict new penalties for the most polluting vehicles, car-free days, green taxi ranks for zero emission-capable cabs and parking reserved for the cleanest vehicles were announced.
An initial Clean Air consultation that closed at the end of July, saw nearly 15, 000 Londoners respond; 79 per cent of which said that they wished to receive information when air pollution was high or very high so they could take appropriate action for their health.
Air quality alerts will now be activated on the day before, and during the day of expected high air pollution.
Alerts will be displayed at 2,500 bus countdown signs and river pier signs across London; 140 road-side dot matrix message signs on the busiest main roads into London, with instructions to switch engines off when stationary to reduce emissions; and electronic update signs at the entrances of all 270 London Underground stations.
Depending on the alert level and communication channel, different information and guidance will be provided including: advising people to walk, cycle or use public transport if possible to help improve air quality; to reduce strenuous activity if someone experiences symptoms; or advising asthma sufferers and other vulnerable groups that they may need to use their reliever inhaler more often.
This is the first step towards London putting in place a comprehensive air pollution incident plan, which will also provide critical information to emergency and support services similar to the existing heat wave plan for England. This will ensure improved coordination during the very worst air pollution incidents and that the most vulnerable Londoners are better prepared.
The alerts will use a three-day ahead forecast about air pollution levels provided by airTEXT. More vulnerable Londoners with particular health needs will continue to have access to the airTEXT service enabling them to get regular forecasts via text, voicemail, email, mobile app and online.
The Mayor will also use his Twitter account and other social media channels to make people aware of moderate air quality incidents, which occur around 40 times a year.
Mayor Khan said, “I am doing everything within my power as mayor to put the health of Londoners first. I hope that these alerts will become less and less frequent as we take steps to make our already great city a cleaner place to live, work and study in.”
Leon Daniels, Transport for London’s (TfL) managing director, Surface Transport, said: “We are working with the Mayor to deliver an ambitious and wide-ranging programme to improve air quality across the Capital. An important part of this work is to raise awareness and provide advice to people on how they can personally contribute to this work.”
Other measures proposed during the Clean Air consultation proposed an expanded Ultra Low Emission Zone plus a diesel scrappage scheme. A further more detailed consultation will take place later this year and some measures could be implemented as early as 2017.