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Drivers in Brent urged to ‘rethink the way they travel’ to tackle air pollution

PUBLISHED: 15:26 25 August 2020 | UPDATED: 15:26 25 August 2020

Looking down the North Circular from Brent Cross towards Neasden. Two of its junctions - at Chartley Avenue and Drury Way - are among those with the most toxic air in Britain. Picture: Elliott Brown/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Looking down the North Circular from Brent Cross towards Neasden. Two of its junctions - at Chartley Avenue and Drury Way - are among those with the most toxic air in Britain. Picture: Elliott Brown/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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Brent Council wants to “nudge people out of their cars” to help improve air quality and tackle breathing issues in the borough.

It comes after research by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) Europe showed that Wembley is among the most polluted areas in the country.

The data highlighted the high level of contributions from diesel cars in the area, while it noted the proportion of young people aged 10 to 18 requiring emergency admission for asthma is over 57 per cent higher in Brent than in England as a whole.

Zak Bond, policy officer at the British Lung Foundation, said authorities must look to “improve air quality urgently” to “protect everyone’s lungs”.

Cllr Krupa Sheth, responsible for the environment at Brent Council, said it is “all too aware” of this and is working with its partners to address the issues.

She said: “One solution is to nudge people out of their cars. We recently announced a programme to make walking and cycling in the borough easier and safer.

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“We hope the introduction of over 30 emergency school streets and new healthy neighbourhoods, among other things, will encourage people to rethink the way they travel.”

READ MORE: Toxic air in Brent is worst in the UK

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The council explained it decided to place one of its healthy neighbourhood schemes in the Tokyngton and Wembley Central areas because of the high levels of pollution there.

It also recently updated its air quality monitoring system at IKEA in Wembley “to help better track the effectiveness of interventions to reduce pollution”.

The study showed that outer London boroughs generally have higher levels of pollution from diesel cars, which suggests the positive impact of the city’s ultra-low emissions zone (ULEZ).

This scheme – the Mayor of London’s signature scheme to reduce emissions from diesel cars – is being expanded from central London up to, but not including, the North and South Circular Roads in 2021.

But Oliver Lord, head of policy and campaigns at EDF Europe, said a “lack of policy” in outer London could “divide communities” in the “fight for clean air”. “There is no hiding from the magnitude of pollution from diesel cars,” he said.

“We need more ambition at a local level and for the Government to give us all the certainty that diesel has had its day, sooner rather than later.”


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