With Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London’s plan to outlaw older more polluting cars from our city’s streets the dangers of air pollution are become more well known, says Jenny Knight.
It is claimed that thousands of Londoners die prematurely each year as a result of long-term exposure to air pollution – while 438 schools in the capital are in areas exceeding legal air quality levels.
Already we have a £10 toxicity charge for London’s most polluting cars which is added to the congestion charge, meaning that these drivers have to pay £21.50 per day to drive within the zone. Now Khan plans to expand the ultra-low emission zone up to the area within the north and south circular roads by next year, which will mean many poorer people with older vehicles will not be able to afford to drive in London anymore.
Whether this plan is fair or not it focuses the mind on pollution, and that includes the minds of the home buyers. Houses on major roads are becoming less attractive, while many of the hundreds of people who move out of London each year cite open spaces and cleaner air as one of their objectives.
Surprisingly it is not only cars, lorries and planes that cause air pollution, but also the construction industry. Builders have also been cleaning up their acts. Instead of using wrecking balls to crash through old buildings, it is now more common to use machinery that nibbles away at the concrete to reduce dust.
Trees and shrubs are all important in improving air quality, so a home next to a park or common, or even one on a tree-lined street will supply better air quality than a home within an urban jungle.
Planners, architects and builders can still do more to help the people who move into new homes to breath happy. Living walls of planted roofs or walls help to refresh the air and catch pollutants. Any available roof space can be used to create natural habitats so that plants can lead the fight against bad air.
Mechanical air filtering and heat recovery systems also help, allowing stale air to be extracted from homes and fresher, cleaned-up external air brought up.
Home buyers can also help. Check if a development has a secure bike store and an air filtration system – for example the new development at Camberwell on the Green by Frasers Property – and do your bit for the environment by trying to combat pollution.