Air pollution

Air quality is the number one concern for people in Westminster. To help tackle this problem, we have identified several priorities to help us keep our air clean:

  • reducing or cleaning dirty journeys and create better infrastructure for electric and low emission vehicles
  • placing emissions and pollution at the forefront of decision making on public spaces and buildings and encouraging all those who shape spaces and buildings to do likewise
  • making environmentally-friendly options easier for everyone 
  • moving the air quality agenda forward through thought leadership and innovation

Building on the pledges in our current Air Quality Manifesto (PDF, 109MB), we have now published a new Air Quality Action Plan which provides a comprehensive overview of how we will continue to make progress on this agenda from 2020 to 2024.

Take a look at our new Air Quality Action Plan below and let us know what you think.

We will continue to integrate our air quality agenda and green policies into the life and work of Westminster City Council. You can find out more about our wider sustainability ambitions by visiting our Greener City webpages.

1. Our new Air Quality Action Plan

Westminster City Council has set out an Air Quality Action Plan to tackle air pollution in our city. Let us know what you think of our plans by taking part in our consultation.

Approximately 250,000 people call Westminster their home, with another 1 million visitors every day. Parts of Westminster have recorded some of the worst air pollution levels in Europe making tackling this issue vital to our city and its residents.

This plan details the actions we will take to improve air quality in Westminster between 2020 and 2024. This includes reducing emissions from buildings and new developments, leading the way in electric vehicle infrastructure, encouraging a shift away from polluting vehicles, and working with partners such as schools, businesses and universities to reduce emissions.

This is just one part of our plan to make Westminster cleaner and greener, and will help us reach our goal of becoming a carbon neutral city by 2030.

For the first time, this plan commits Westminster to meeting World Health Organisation guidelines for air quality, which exceed the targets set by UK law. Setting this ambitious target emphasises our commitment to improving the air we all breathe in Westminster.

Our action plan outlines 5 major themes:

  • monitoring air quality
  • reducing emissions from buildings and new developments
  • reducing emissions from transport
  • raising awareness of air quality
  • lobbying and partnership work

Air pollution is not something we can tackle alone. As well as not being contained in our borough or even national boundaries, many of the factors contributing to pollution in Westminster are beyond our control. That’s why we’re committed to working with all levels of government, businesses, residents and everyone else with a stake in the air we breathe.

Read the full Air Quality Action Plan (PDF, 4MB)

Read the summary of our Air Quality Action Plan (PDF, 864KB)

Have your say - take our survey

Our consultation will run for 8 weeks and will end on 26 February 2020.

2. Pollution alerts and statistics

westminster_aq_asr_2018_final.pdf

You can register for free air quality alerts by text message or email from airTEXT. airTEXT alerts also contain useful information on how you can reduce your exposure to harmful pollution when air quality levels are especially poor.

Westminster also produces annual Air Quality Progress Reports which are available for download:

The council produces annual Air Quality Progress Reports which are available for download:​

 

You can also get detailed statistics and data on air quality in Westminster, including forecasts, from London Air and also from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

3. Report air pollution

Air pollution can include things like fumes, smoke, gas, odours and dust. If you're experiencing an issue, you can report air pollution or report engine idling online.

Or to report a smoky vehicle or excessive exhaust fumes, please go to GOV.UK.

4. What you can do

There are lots of ways you can get involved in our work to improve air quality across Westminster.

Each of our air quality manifesto pledges explains how we want to work with you and how you can shape our policies and projects to improve air quality in your area. It’s really important that we all work together to improve the air we all breathe.

Find our more on our air quality manifesto webpage.

There are also lots of simple steps you can take to reduce your own emissions, as well as reducing your exposure to harmful pollution. Here are just a few things to get you started:

  • Walk or cycle when you can. As well as helping air quality by not causing emissions from your car, you’re also exposed to more pollution as a driver or car passenger than you are when you walk or cycle!
  • When you are out of the car, try and take quieter routes where pollution is lower – maybe through local parks?
  • If you are traveling by car, remember not to idle your engine! Find out more about idling on our #DontBeIdle webpages.
  • Get free pollution alerts by email or text message from airTEXT.
  • Improving the energy efficiency of your home will also reduce in lower pollution levels, as well as saving you money on your bills!

5. Air quality task group

In 2017 Westminster City Council launched an air quality task group: councillors from the Environment, Health and Children’s Scrutiny Committees formed the task group and, with input from experts, focused on three main areas: 

  • pollution caused by transport
  • pollution caused by buildings emissions
  • the health impacts of poor air quality

This task group’s final report can be found below. We're also publishing the evidence review which was commissioned by the task group which has informed our work. The task group thanks everyone who submitted evidence.

This report will form part of the evidence base for our new statutory Air Quality Action Plan due in 2018.

Air quality task group report (PDF, 2.4MB)

King's College London Policy Institute report: air quality improvement initiatives in other cities (June 2017) (PDF, 3MB)

Cross River Partnership evidence for the Westminster council air quality task group (January 2017) (PDF, 618KB)

6. Our responses to Air Quality Consultations

It is crucial that national government and the Mayor of London play their part in tackling air pollution.

In early 2018 we submitted a response to the Mayor of London’s proposals on the Ultra Low Emission Zone and Low Emission Zone, and wrote to the Deputy Mayor of London about our aspirations for our low emission fleet.

View the full response to the Mayor’s Air Quality Consultation

7. #DontBeIdle

Our #DontBeIdle campaign aims to improve air quality for our residents and visitors. 

Find out all about this exciting campaign to improve the air we all breathe, and find out how you can get involved, by visiting the #DontBeIdle webpages. 

Last updated: 31 December 2019