Pollution in The Peninsula:
While many of the issues which challenge and bedevil the Peninsula are immediately and observably conspicuous, one issue is less visibly obvious but should be a source of concern to the population of Peninsula in particular (though also more widely, across neighbouring wards of East Greenwich, Westcombe, Charlton and Woolwich). In fact, the issue of POLLUTION links to a plethora of themes of concern such as:
- The building of the Silvertown Tunnel,
- the absurd traffic congestion and bus service disruption, seemingly unrestrainable over-development and environmental (air quality and general safety and liveability of our streets) threat to the general quality of life of our population, particularly of our children and around our schools.
A Look at Air Pollution in the Peninsula Area:
We would refer you to 2 websites that give objective information, one live information, the other more complex modelling, on air quality on Peninsula.
The first site is that of the World Air Quality Index Project and uses data submitted by the government agency Defra and the London Air Quality Network, Environmental Research Group, Kings College London.
This site is very intuitively easy to navigate. Greenwich Borough has a number of sampling sites where air quality is continuously sampled throughout the day and the data is used to produce what is effectively a live monitoring of air quality conditions (one can see the actual sampling machinery on the streets. They consist of large grey “tardis” type containers, and the most local are sited at the Angerstein flyover (by “Terry’s Autos”), on the Millennium School roundabout, and in East Greenwich in Hoskins Street at the foot of Maze Hill and Trafalgar Road junction). The website produces live readings for a series of pollutants (NO2, PM-10, PM-2.5, amongst others) for each sampler and also provides a wealth of historic data.
We would invite readers to go to the website – and be prepared to be concerned! We would further add that at points recently Greenwich sampling for one of the sites at Millennium School) stopped being recorded in the period after a particularly concerning spike in the level of pollution and one of our LibDem candidates has been assiduous in chasing the Council up on this and restoring recording.
The second site we would direct readers toward is a site cited in a recent article published in one of the national newspapers (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/apr/28/dirty-air-affects-97-of-uk-homes-data-shows). The article quotes findings and modelling published by the Central Office of Public Interest and Imperial College, University of London, which ranks all locations in the UK by postal code and where each sit in the spectrum from best to worst across the country (it indicates which decile, for particular pollutants, each post code sits within). The invitation is on website https://addresspollution.org/ where you will be able to submit your postal code and see the ranking – again, Peninsula residents should be prepared to be concerned!
The newspaper article does provide wider discussion of the general topic and we would also recommend the website run by Imperial College of the University of London, London Air, which provides detailed information on the various Pollutants and their Health Implications (https://londonair.org.uk/londonair/guide/home.aspx). From our immediate perspective, we tend to focus largely on NO2 (largely vehicle emitted) and PM-10 and PM-2.5 (more widespread sources of emission into the atmosphere). The latter two refer to general small particles that can come from multiple sources (not just vehicle exhaust emissions, but also tyre wear and road erosion particles, for example); the 10 and 2.5 designation refers to the size of the particles (in microns); whilst PM-10 may be nasally filtered to some degree the PM-2.5 particles are smaller and can pose greater risk as these have higher chance of penetrating through and settling in lung tissue) – thus we regularly focus especially on the dangers of PM-2.5 to our community.
What Do We See:
The two most disturbing straightforward observations are glaringly obvious:
- The general levels of Pollution in Peninsula are disturbingly high
- The levels recorded at Peninsula’s two sample points, at Millennium School and at the Woolwich/Angerstein Flyover, are consistently the highest levels recorded across the whole Borough of Greenwich
Liberal Democrat Policies and Actions:
Liberal Democrats are committed to addressing this unseen threat to all our health, particularly to our children and youth, both in principle and in past and continuing action.
- LibDem’s were to the fore in the successful resistance to the building of the cruise-liner terminal on the sweep of the river at Greenwich. Liners docked running their own on-board power systems were estimated to generate the pollution equivalent of 400+ HGV vehicles running their engines constantly. However, this fight may not be over in the sense that while the terminal project has been prevented, liners will still dock within the river at Greenwich and significant liner traffic still pass-through Greenwich en route to other docking locations further up-river.
- Lib Dem’s have opposed the Silvertown Tunnel project from its early inception and the modification of the original plans whereby the plan to site the original crossing further down-river was altered. The project in its current form has been pushed through by Mayor Khan in the face of widespread local opposition. From inception to the Stop the Silvertown Tunnel rally two months ago, attended by your Peninsula candidates and LibDem London Assembly member Hina Bokhari (who was a speaker at the rally), LibDems have been unwavering in their opposition, and the other LibDem Assembly member, Caroline Pidgeon, was as recently as 10 days ago writing to the project leaders contesting the assumptions being made about toll commitments and the consequent impact on highly contentious purported traffic reduction claims. In the context of the current concern regarding levels of pollution, greater traffic related to another tunnel is likely to result in higher levels of both NO2 and of PM-10 and PM-2.5 due to both higher emissions and increased particle matter generation from increased traffic volume.
- Traffic congestion, both in relation to the Blackwall Tunnel approaches and the Woolwich Road/Trafalgar Road routes into Greenwich centre, is plainly unsatisfactory and unsustainable. Traffic planning needs to be the result of proper consultation and thinking that is transparent to all and takes account of pedestrians and all transport users; further, going forward, it should seek to employ all the most advanced technologies available (APNR identification, road pricing, traffic calming measures) to inform the policy. Restoring the primacy of public transport should be a priority towards achieving improved traffic and air quality outcomes. Recent Council transport policy has been in instances ill-judged and inconsistent (e.g. the imposition of the West Greenwich LTN, the associated traffic chaos it resulted in, and then its subsequent withdrawal) but these are the types of outcomes that can be avoided if the broad consultation and transparency we are advocating is enacted. As already mentioned, it should be noted that even a progressive shift towards electric vehicles, while welcome in so far as it will reduce NO2 emissions, will not eliminate the threat posed by PM-10 and PM-2.5 particulates as these can come from road and tyre wear which result from traffic volume and congestion, regardless of emission technology itself. The implications for children and the immediate locality of schools is a foremost concern and we welcome recent exchanges with the Mums-for-Lungs group.
- The Peninsula and immediately neighbouring wards continue to be the locations of over-development with one further residential building project appearing to follow another. On top of both the recently approved tall Towers at Morden Wharf and the development on the river at New Charlton (beyond the Anchor and Hope Public House) most residents are aware of the submitted proposal to build residential units on the IKEA/B&Q car park. Open and green space is becoming something of a premium on the Peninsula but the intention to build living units right up to the edge of the approach road to the current Tunnel, given the air quality indications implied in the data from the sites referred to above, appears to be environmental and health recklessness. The project itself demands immediate and forensic review and all mitigants and defences against air quality deterioration and pollutant dissemination must be considered.
Liberal Democrats regard the Environmental and Health aspects of Poor and Deteriorating Air Quality an under-appreciated and inadequately acknowledged significant issue for the residents of Peninsula. We regard it as one of our major priorities to bring its significance fully into the public domain and drive action in response. Our own and our children’s present and future health are at stake.