Long time no blog. Twitter is too easy, work is too time consuming, head is too knackered. Am going to the Caribbean for a bit.
Before I go, however, I’d like to draw your attention to this excellent resource for data on London’s air quality. This is timely, as it’s becoming a bit of an issue – there were Mayoral Questions on it today.
What the site does is collects together polled data from pollution recording sites around London, measuring things like PM10 particulates and NOX levels. Now, naturally enough the first thing you do is check your own area, so I found a local site in Hounslow plus some sites in neighboring boroughs (Ealing, for instance) which occupied me usefully for an hour or so, mainly spent trying to work out if there really is a relationship between increased bus use and pollution – who’d have thought that a site by the A40 just round the corner from a major aggregates depot would have really severe problems with particulates? Then I tried heading east a bit, to see how the air quality was doing down at Boris’s old friends the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. Here’s what I found. Until January, LBHF had two London Air Quality Network sites (presumably council funded, since they mostly are). They also have a perfectly reasonable page talking the talk, but curiously there’s no up to date data available on what their residents are breathing in. Further digging reveals that the two sites, at Hammersmith Broadway and Brook Green, were taken out of service in January 2009. The exact measuring dates are 23 Aug 1999 to 20 Jan 2009 and 28 Jul 2003 to 21 Jan 2009. Furthermore, at the Broadway site the data ran out even before that – Brook Green carried on measuring until someone pulled the plug on the 20th.
It would, of course, be churlish to point out that LBHF were at the forefront of the borough campaign to scrap the CC Western Extension, and are keen on ripping out traffic lights and generally sucking up to the motorist. In light of that, perhaps it’s not surprising that monitoring air quality is taking a back seat. After all, as their website says:
The major source of air pollution in Hammersmith and Fulham is exhaust emissions from road traffic. The Council is looking at ways to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality. Everybody should think about the way they travel around. Those residents that are car users can help improve the quality of the air in the borough by following a few simple guidelines.
It is, therefore, rather more than unfortunate that we won’t be able to see the results of their early adoption of Boris’s ‘traffic smoothing’ ideas on pollution levels, because they’re not measuring them any more. Perhaps the increasingly Red Boris Johnsonstone, fresh from flying round the world to hobnob with the great and the good about London’s leading role in fighting climate change, needs to ensure a bit more openness and clarity back home? It would be terrible if those nasty Tory boroughs tried to subvert the Mayor’s efforts to clean up the capital after all. Hang on, where have we heard that before?
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