Hammersmith & FulhamNews

Authority banked £12m from drivers falling foul of Clean Air restrictions

By Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

A pair of Clean Air Neighbourhoods (CANs) in south Fulham collected about £11.8m last year in fines, the local authority has revealed.

But Labour-run Hammersmith and Fulham council has said that it expects the CANs to generate only about £5.6m this year, as drivers are increasingly adapting to the schemes.

The project aims to reduce ‘rat-running’ – and resultant pollution – in residential streets by out-of-borough drivers through the use of cameras at key locations away from main roads.

Under the scheme, residents with cars registered in the borough, their guests, black cabs, carers, business visitors and others with exemptions can go through the scheme’s cameras without incurring a penalty.

The first CAN was established in residential roads east of Wandsworth Bridge Road in July 2020 and made permanent in December 2021.

It has been joined by a second zone west of the bridge and south of New King’s Road, which was launched on a trial basis in February 2023. The council’s cabinet voted to make the second CAN permanent at a meeting earlier this month.

The project has proved controversial among some people in the borough, with one resident saying it has “divided the local community, damaged local businesses, harmed people’s livelihoods and their lives, and it raises serious ethical concerns”.

Local Tory MP Greg Hands has said that the project “has had an awful impact on local businesses, and heaped extra congestion on to New King’s Road and Wandsworth Bridge Roads”.

But others, particularly those living inside the affected zones, have praised the CANs for bringing relief to residential roads after decades of being “plagued” with rat-running.

The council has now revealed that in 2023, the western CAN collected about £7.8m in fines, although it expects this figure to reduce by two thirds – to around £2.6m – in 2024.

The compliance rate of vehicles in the western part of the project was at about 88.93 per cent when it began in February 2023, with £1.3m paid out by drivers. By December, compliance had risen to 97.57 per cent, with about £289k collected in fines.

The longer-established eastern CAN took in about £4m in fines last year, the council said. This was a reduction from the £6.2m it collected in 2022, and the authority predicts the figure will drop again in 2024, to roughly £3m.

A council spokesman said: “Fifteen thousand fewer cars a day are using the residential side streets of south Fulham as commuter cut-throughs, while 1.4 tonnes of deadly nitrogen oxide and two tonnes of climate-damaging carbon emissions have been removed from the air [daily].

“Since the recent clean air trial began, fines have tumbled by almost 80 per cent and pollution from congestion has become a thing of the past in residential streets, which are now quieter, cleaner and safer.

“Any surplus from the fines goes on hundreds more trees, new safe cycle routes, better flood drainage and green landscaping.”

Pictured top: A CAN notice (Picture: LDRS)

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