A planning application that involved moving a sports pitch from green space to a site beside the Western Cross Route and Westway, was agreed in September 2012 only on the proviso that air pollution levels would be monitored.
Despite this commitment, made in front of concerned members of the public, the pledge was later deemed to be ‘non-binding’ and the monitoring never took place. Kensington Labour Councillors and community groups tried to get the pollution levels tested, but it is a specialist task and it proved complex and expensive to undertake.
Finally, a Citizen Science project, ‘Clean Up London Air’, led by a concerned local resident undertook the work, under the guidance of ‘Mapping for Change’ an academic project at University College London.
The month-long project, which involved a ‘guerilla monitoring exercise’ using diffusion tubes to record nitrogen dioxide levels, took place during July, and the recordings were then sent off for analysis; the results are now back.
Here are their findings for the new Westway sports pitch, for nitrogen dioxide levels.
The European legal standard
for the annual mean NO2 is 40µg/m3
The average in July
at the Latimer Road pitch was 52.46µg/m3
Marco Picardi from Green Westway, a local environmental campaign, undertook the monitoring project, and said:
“It’s alarming that this level of pollution is tolerated to the point whereby playing sport separated from one of Europe’s busiest roads only by a fence has become a normal activity.
‘With air pollution linked to 8.3% of all deaths in Kensington and Chelsea, we need accurate information to understand what risks we are exposed to in order to demand the changes that will improve our urban environment and make it safer.
‘It’s clear that the Westway Development Trust, Transport for London, and the Council need to act swiftly to rectify this situation and make this a safe environment for the people that use the Westway’s facilities and live in its shadow”
RBKC Labour Group Leader Cllr Emma Dent Coad, who won a Clean Air in London Award this year for her work on the subject, said:
‘This research confirms all our worst fears; air pollution near the sports pitch beside the Western Cross Route breaches EU safety levels by a wide margin. We cannot and dare not ignore this. We will be demanding immediate mitigation with green walls, as well as restating our commitment to a range of measures to improve air quality long-term, including the establishment of an Ultra Low Emission Zone in the borough. The Council cannot ignore such a serious health hazard, we need action now, and a plan for the future.’