Air pollution

1. Improving air quality in Westminster

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

To move forward with these priorities, we have made a series of pledges as part of our Air Quality Manifesto, setting out our commitment to make Westminster a cleaner, greener city. 

You can read the Air Quality Manifesto (PDF, 109MB) in full.

It is important that this work and our pledges are seen within the wider context of developments in this area. These pledges both highlight our achievements to date and provide us with a plan for action in the coming months and years.

At the end of 2018, we will be publishing our new Air Quality Strategy and Action Plan, which will contain these pledges and more. They will provide a comprehensive overview of how we will continue to make progress on this agenda over the next five years.

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.

2. Westminster’s air quality action plan

London has some of the highest pollution levels in the country. In some areas of Westminster, national air quality objectives have been exceeded and as such the City of Westminster has been designated an Air Quality Management Area. We were the first authority in the UK to do this and we continue to be at the forefront of tackling pollution – see our new air quality manifesto to find out what our current priorities are.

So, to improve air quality, the council has its own five year ‘Westminster Air Quality Action Plan’. As part of this we have undertaken a variety of measures  and has undertaken measures such as:

  • using planning policy and sustainable infrastructure to promote clean air
  • pioneering the concept of a Low Emission Zone for London implementing the Marylebone Low Emission Neighbourhood and supporting the Northbank Low Emission Neighbourhood
  • encouraging the use of electric vehicles with recharging points and reduced parking charges
  • engaging with businesses to increase awareness and reduce the environmental impact of businesses
  • engaging with schools to deliver sustainable transport solutions and installing two 'living walls'
  • providing access to the free airTEXT service, which gives advice to those with health conditions affected by poor air quality
  • promoting cycling and walking  infrastructure
  • developing a ‘Westminster Code of Construction Practise’
  • managing a borough wide air pollution monitoring network
  • establishing residential Coach and Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) Ban Areas to protect local residents from the impact of heavy through traffic
  • reducing Westminster City Council’s own vehicle fleet emissions
  • installing ‘switch off engine' signs in coach parking bays to reduce unnecessary pollution and noise
  • talking to drivers about the air pollution caused by idling engines

Read the full Air Quality Action Plan

3. Pollution alerts and statistics

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.

4. 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 and engine idling online.

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

5. 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 travelling 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!

6. 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)

7. Westminster’s 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

8. #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: 13 July 2018
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