Call for cleaner air

Merton Council has published its Air Quality Action Plan and we have come together with Friends of Mitcham Common and Mitcham Society to provide a response.

Air pollution is an issue which respects no boundaries and requires an area wide approach.

Our own monitoring of air pollution around Lower Green West shows it in breach of the required standards. You can see the results on Clean Air Merton’s community map.

There’s a lot to welcome in Merton Council’s Action Plan, especially support for extending the Ultra Low Emission Zone. Yet, it lacks the ambition and many of the measures necessary to address the scale of the problem facing the area are missing.

Here are our proposals for what needs to happen:

  • Targets for improving air quality year on year to 2022
  • A network of air quality monitoring stations – particulates and NOx – throughout the Mitcham area, including on Mitcham Common as well as along the roads that pass through it, with data made publicly available in a timely manner
  • Zero emission or hydrogen buses on all routes through Mitcham Town Centre and its designation as a Low Emission Bus Zone
  • A ban on heavy lorries running on Church Road between Lower Green West and Benedict Wharf as part of the measures to address “hot spots”
  • Changed traffic flow at Lower Green West to remove the existing “roundabout” configuration and reconnect it to Lower Green East
  • Improved pedestrian permeability in Mitcham Town Centre and Cricket Green – including enhanced pedestrian crossings and reduced crossing times
  • A requirement in all travel plans for schools and new development to demonstrate how they will contribute to improvements in air quality, and a commitment from Merton Council to monitor and enforce these travel plans
  • Investment in a behavioural change programme to raise awareness of individual actions to improve air quality
  • Enforcement against idling cars and lorries which extends beyond any plans to act on idling outside schools
  • Community consultation over the location of a network of well-designed electric vehicle charging points in Mitcham as an alternative to the current process whereby Merton Council submits planning applications to itself ahead of any community engagement
  • Active programme of succession planting of trees and hedges throughout Mitcham to conserve and enhance tree cover, especially along major routes
  • Stronger connections between Mitcham and the Wandle Trail and open spaces, including Willow Lane Industrial Estate
  • Active promotion of Mitcham Common as a source of health and well being with relatively better air quality including:
    • Promotion of healthy walks
    • Opening up the Ecology Centre as an affordable location for hosting community-led activity promoting health and well being
    • Management and planting along the fringes to filter particulates.

Our full response is here.