Key Pledge: Westminster Labour will deliver action on air quality and green spaces

Three of the most polluted streets in London are in Westminster. Data from King’s College London put the Strand, Marylebone Road and Oxford Street in the top 10 for N02 air pollution, a toxic gas which is estimated to kill thousands each year and air quality is an important health and wellbeing issue for residents across Westminster. If Westminster Labour wins on May 3rd we are determined create a cleaner, greener city with action to improve air quality central to our plans.

Westminster Labour is supporting the UK100 network’s Clean Air Commitment and is proposing a number of new measures that build on the work already done by the Mayor of London and the Council to help make Westminster a better place to live.

Labour would seek to develop a fully emissions-based residents’ parking permit scheme that incentivises residents to use cleaner cars to help tackle Westminster’s air quality crisis. Such a scheme would only be introduced on a cost-neutral basis that reduces charges for less polluting vehicles.

A Labour Council would work energetically to expand Westminster’s electric car charging point network to make it easier for residents to take up this technology.

Planning out dirty air to make a healthier borough will be central to Labour’s approach. We would change Council planning policy to enable and actively encourage car-free developments that can both protect air quality and support house building.

Labour will work with developers to find ways to reduce emissions and carbon usage during both construction and the lifetime of buildings. We will strongly promote the use of new technology to tackle airborne pollution and look at how adapting the physical environment, through green walls, city trees and other emissions absorbing approaches, can help tackle the problem. We will develop planning policies that require all new major developments to show how their scheme addresses issues of air quality, building on the forward thinking approach of Labour Councils like Hackney.

As previously announced Labour will take a number of steps to make it easier for our residents to cycle by providing secure cycle storage, expanding the reach of the Santander cycle hire scheme and supporting the Quietway network.

Labour are committed to supporting car-free play streets near local schools where residents and parents want this. We back and will expand existing efforts by local business and the council to increase freight consolidation and will robustly enforce measures against engine idling.

A Labour Council would create an air quality champion to help lead our work in this area and air quality will be explicitly be a named part of the job for a member of a Labour Council cabinet.

We will work with residents to generate new ideas for how to provide new green spaces in our city, with ‘pocket parks’ on poorly used public land, and new community gardens. Working with Westminster Tree Trust, a Labour Council would make it easier for residents to suggest where they would like to see trees integrated into the landscape and on our streets so that we can provide thousands of new trees and plants across Westminster. Labour would also seek to expand opportunities for local allotments and community garden schemes.

Westminster already benefits for a number of world class green spaces and Labour seeks to build on this by supporting the initiative to make London the world's first National Park City, further strengthening the connection between people and nature.

Labour will also work with the Canals and Rivers Trust (CRT) to improve the maintenance and lighting of the Grand Union canal to improve safety and expand public usage, forming a ‘green and blue spine’ through North Westminster.