Green Mayoral candidate, Sian Berry, took her campaign for cleaner air to one of London’s most polluted roads: Putney High Street, where she warned local residents that traffic emissions were causing a “pollution crisis” and frequently surpassed the lawful amount by as much as 100%.
Working with the campaign group Clean Air in London, Berry took her campaign to Putney which recently became notorious for exceeding annual legal limits of nitrogen dioxide just eight days into 2016.
Clean Air in London, who were involved in organising the event, recently also awarded Berry 10/10 for her proposed policy pledges, involving her “comprehensive plan to tackle London’s air pollution.”
While Berry received the top score, her opponents favoured less well, with Caroline Pidgeon, the Liberal Democrat candidate receiving 7/10, Labour’s Sadiq Khan getting 5/10, and in last place, the Conservative, Zac Goldsmith only managed a score of 3/10.
As part of her campaign in Putney, Berry endeavoured to “tell Londoners the truth,” by relaying real-time readings from the air pollution monitoring station there to passers-by.
In the time it took to interview Berry about her campaign policy pledges, Berry recorded that the amount of air pollutant had increased from 42.3 to 50.4 mg/m³ – even though the legal limit is just 40 mg/m³.
“Obviously, Putney High Street is one of many high streets that have an enormous amount of traffic,” Berry tells me, “and you have this canyon effect with tall buildings on either side of the road which is the classic way air pollution collects.”
She adds that “this is why you have a real crisis here and why the levels got to two and a half times the legal limits this morning.”
When asked about her plans specifically for Putney’s “crisis,” Berry said that she would “in general, reduce traffic” but, more that specifically she would create a “much wider low emissions zone” including a congestion charge which would cover Putney and West London. This zone would “charge people less for travelling out of peak hours”, and “reward people for driving cleaner vehicles.”
Since an estimated 9,500 Londoners prematurely die every year from air pollution, when asked why she had organised the event to take place in one of the most polluted and dangerous roads in the capital, Berry said: “People in Putney have to breathe this air every day, so it’s only fair that I come down and experience it.”