Transport for London package of measures to tackle pollution levels at the busiest roads in central London; Dust suppressants and Eco-marshals
Transport for London (TfL) recently announced a package of measures to tackle pollution levels at the busiest roads in central London. The new targeted clean-up measures, which could reduce local pollution levels of PM10 by 10-20% where applied, are financed from a Clean Air Fund secured by the Mayor and TfL from the Department for Transport (DfT).
The funding, announced in April, will allow a package of local measures already identified as part of the Mayor’s Air Quality Strategy to be initiated, fast-tracked and expanded over the next nine months. The first tranche of Clean Air Fund work includes:
- The expansion of the application of dust suppressants that stick PM10 to the carriageway and prevent it from re-circulating in the air. Two additional vehicles are set to be converted to apply the dust suppressant enabling the two trial sites to be expanded into more areas including construction sites.
- The start of a concerted No Engine Idling campaign to deter unnecessary engine running from all motor vehicles when stationary. This kicks off with a small team of eco-marshals who will monitor taxi ranks at busy central London mainline stations and other on street ranks where air quality is particularly poor.
- The start of a greening program to trap pollution—a row of 50 green towers (six foot tall planters) have been installed along Lower Thames Street, one of central London’s most polluted roads. Air quality modeling shows that the vast majority of London already meets the European Commission limit value for annual average PM10, but there are some local hot spots identified as being at risk of exceeding limits.
The European Commission recently confirmed to the UK government that the Mayor’s plans to reduce PM10 pollution by a third by 2015—including the work of the Clean Air Fund—has lifted the threat of hefty fines.
A comprehensive package of clean-up measures including innovative technology, is now being targeted where most needed in central London. In addition, action is being taken to deliver a permanent legacy of cleaner air right across the Capital. This includes the first ever age limit for black cabs, tighter standards for the Low Emission Zone, cleaner buses, including the New Bus for London and an expanded bike hire scheme.—Kulveer Ranger, the Mayor’s Environment Director
Dust suppressant. A dust suppressant pilot study ran from November 2010 to April 2011—a UK first. Vehicles spread the biodegradable saline solution (Calcium Magnesium Acetate) in very small amounts evenly on road surfaces at two locations; Victoria Embankment and Marylebone Road.
The results focused on the Victoria Embankment site and showed that repeated applications can be effective at reducing PM10 at curbside locations by between 10 and 14% over 24 hourly periods.
The scheme will continue to run on Victoria Embankment and Marylebone Road and will also be introduced to Park Lane and corridors such as the A2. Trials at industrial and construction sites will also begin to help tackle the source of pollution where there are high levels of PM10.
Eco-marshals. A team of five eco-marshals will be visiting taxi ranks in pollution hot spots across the Capital to reduce engine idling time for taxis and minicabs whilst promoting eco-driving courses designed to reduce emissions, as well as save cabbies money through efficient driving techniques. The eco-marshals are existing TfL staff on secondment, two of whom are licensed London taxi drivers.
They will be conducting research that will be used to inform future activity, identify where to focus efforts and develop better information to help taxi and private hire drivers change driving habits. Their research will also consider whether to change taxi rank layout and design.
TfL’s Managing Director for Surface Transport, has also written to coach, bus and freight operators to encourage their drivers to switch off their engines while stationary.
Black cabs account for around a quarter of PM10 emissions in central London with up to 15% of that estimated to be as a result of taxi drivers leaving their engines idling when stationary.
Green towers. Fifty planted towers have been placed along Lower Thames Street, which is a PM10 hot spot. The 6ft-tall planters will contain bedding plants to help trap particulate matter and will be replaced with ivy in the winter.
Other green infrastructure, including green walls and trees, will be planted at other PM10 pollution hot spots across London.
The Clean Air Fund measures will be used flexibly where PM10 levels are highest, allowing for the fact that London’s pollution levels can be weather dependent and influenced by pollution from outside the Capital.