Hammersmith & FulhamNews

Clean air trial is curbing pollution, but critics unconvinced it should become permanent feature

By Ben Lynch, Local Democracy Reporter

A west London clean air scheme looks on course to be made permanent, as data shows it has removed an average of 7,000 vehicles from its roads every day.

Hammersmith and Fulham council said the Clean Air Neighbourhood (CAN) trial in South Fulham has also led to cuts to carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx).

But a campaign group opposing the CAN has hit back at the proposed decision, accusing the council of using “selective data and partial facts to justify shifting traffic and pollution from affluent streets to already busy, more populous streets”.

The trial, which was implemented in December 2022 and covers the area west of Wandsworth Bridge, is part of efforts to make South Fulham “an even nicer place to live, work and shop with the ultimate goal of delivering cleaner air”, the council said.

It was rolled out on the back of a similar scheme trialled east of the bridge, made permanent in December 2021, which was found to have resulted in 8,000 fewer vehicles per day.

Similar in principle to Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs), the CANs involve the deployment of cameras to fine out-of-borough drivers cutting through local streets.

They also feature a range of measures to improve climate resilience and biodiversity, including better walking and cycling infrastructure and sustainable drainage schemes.

Critics, such as the Traffic Camera Consulting Group, have previously raised concerns about the trial scheme’s hit on local businesses and perceived displacement of vehicles to other roads.

Lauren Clark, left, and Donald Grant: Interested parties at the Hammersmith and Fulham Cabinet meeting on February 12 (Picture: LDRS)

Lauren Clark, who works with her partner, the owner of Randall’s Butchers in Wandsworth Bridge Road, said their business had lost about 40 per cent of its trade due to the CAN, with customers avoiding the area.

In a report published ahead of next Monday’s cabinet meeting, in which it is recommended the CAN be made permanent, data indicates overall traffic was down when comparing volumes in several months both before and during the trial.

The average daily traffic for Broomhouse Lane in March 2022, for example, was 7,869 vehicles. This dropped to 3,352 in March 2023. Not all locations saw reductions in each instance, with Wandsworth Bridge Road North recording an increase of 16.4 per cent when comparing June 2022 with June 2023.

Fewer vehicles have also resulted in improved air quality, with the data reporting an average of 0.65 tonnes of NOx and 0.9 tonnes of CO2 less daily.

Certain groups, such as carers and Black Cabs, as well as residents, are exempt from the cameras. Businesses can also issue exemptions to customers, in a bid to mitigate the impacts on their trade.

A consultation found residents were generally in favour of schemes which cut out-of-borough traffic using streets as cut-throughs. But concerns about safety were among those raised by residents, who report Uber drivers refusing to drop women off at their homes if they live within the CAN.

Donald Grant, chairman of the Traffic Camera Consulting Group, accused the council of using ‘selective data and partial facts’ in its report. “They don’t acknowledge the division it has wedged in the community…and are still in denial over the damage to local shops and the safety concerns of women,” he said.

Lou Savage, a resident living within the CAN and part of the Clean SW6 campaign group, however praised the impact of the scheme on the area.

“The scheme has profoundly improved the quality of lives for residents and the local community,” she said, “encouraging us to spend more time walking and cycling around local streets that are now cleaner and quieter.”

A Hammersmith and Fulham council spokesman said: “The trial was developed by residents. It set out to end a decades-old congestion and pollution problem in the streets around Wandsworth Bridge Road that had been exacerbated by the increased use of sat-nav equipment by motorists.

“The shared ambition is to make South Fulham an even nicer place to live, work and shop with the ultimate goal of delivering cleaner air and transforming Wandsworth Bridge Road into a destination high street.”

Pictured top: The Clean Air Neighbourhood trial west of Wandsworth Bridge was introduced in December 2022 (Picture: Facundo Arrizabalaga)

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