Blog : Clean Air Act

UK Leaders call for an Enhanced Clean Air Fund

 

A cross-party group of political leaders from across the country are calling for Government support to tackle air pollution. 14 Mayors and political leaders from London, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Nottingham, Oxford, Sheffield, Southampton and the West of England Combined Authority have today joined forces to call for the Government to support a network of 30 new and existing Clean Air Zones, where the most polluting vehicles are fined. A report released by UK100, a network of local leaders, shows that towns and cities could see an economic return of £6.5bn with support from the Government to tackle illegal levels of air pollution.

The Royal College of Physicians has assessed that the costs attributed to health problems resulting from exposure to air pollution are more than £20bn per year.  The group are urging the new Chancellor, Sajid Javid to make an enhanced Clean Air Fund the centrepiece of a Spending Round in support of the NHS, which is due to be published on 4 September.

With air pollution contributing to up to 36,000 deaths a year, the research shows that adequately funding existing Clean Air Zones and introducing new ones, which would charge the most polluting vehicles to enter towns and cities, could provide a boost to our health and the economy. (1)

A national network of up to 30 Clean Air Zones across England, including London, could be enhanced and unlocked if an additional £1.5bn is committed from Government and business to tackle air pollution in the most polluted towns and cities. This would bring together £1bn in the upcoming Spending Round alongside £500m from business contributions. (2) This would allow Clean Air Zones to be introduced in all of the places the Government warns will have illegal levels of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) by 2021. This includes towns and cities across the country such as Bristol, Coventry, Guildford, Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield, Newcastle and Southampton.

The initial results from the UK’s first Clean Air Zone are encouraging. A report into the impact of London’s ULEZ (Ultra Low Emissions Zone) introduced in April this year shows that the numbers of older, polluting vehicles has reduced by over a quarter. (3)

Currently only six local authorities have plans to introduce such zones.(4) For existing and upcoming zones such as in London and Birmingham, it would support enhanced Vehicle Renewal schemes to support residents and small businesses to switch to cleaner transport.

A survey by Hitachi from earlier this year showed that a majority of the public are in favour of Clean Air Zones, with 50% supporting plans to charge motorists to enter a zone, while only 22% disagree. (5)

Under the UK100 plan, lower income residents and small businesses would be offered incentives of between £2,000 and £6,000 to either upgrade existing vehicles or get rid of their older, polluting vehicles and switch to a cleaner form of transport such as electric vehicles or public transport. As well as support for buying an ‘ultra low emissions’ vehicle, the cash could also be put toward car clubs, bike hire schemes or a public transport season ticket.

The report calls for a partnership with industry to contribute to a national vehicle renewal scheme, similar to how car manufacturers have contributed to the German Government’s Sustainability Mobility Fund for cities. London has received commitment from third party organisations (e.g. car clubs) for additional funding to support its car scrappage scheme

10.5 million hospital patients at risk from toxic fumes

10.5 million hospital patients at risk from toxic fumes

UK100, a network of local leaders that campaigns on clean air and climate change are today releasing new analysis that shows the major risk to public health from air pollution.

It shows that 1 in 4 hospitals in England and nearly 1 in 5 across the UK are located in areas that exceed safe levels of PM2.5 air pollution as determined by the World Health Organisation. Across the UK, 248 hospitals (17%) exceed safe levels.

 UK100 has estimated that around 10.5 million patients could be visiting a hospital with dangerous pollution levels. The pollution, which is known as particulates or PM2.5 – is based on tiny particles which can be absorbed not just by people’s lungs but also get embedded in their bloodstream and organs, contributing to diseases such as lung cancer, strokes, diabetes and dementia.

London is the worst affected with 72% of hospitals in the capital affected, with 95 hospitals breaching guidelines, while 36% of hospitals in the East Midlands are above limits, and nearly a third (32.5%) in the East of England. The data was originally commissioned by the British Lung Foundation.

Polly Billington, Director of the UK100 network, said:  “We urgently need to reduce emissions caused by transport and industrial fumes. Local authorities, the NHS and businesses can work together to reduce non-emergency car journeys and the emissions caused by deliveries to hospitals. But we urgently need new laws and funding from government to tackle this health crisis including Clean Air Zones around city hospitals.”

The data shows that each of the 484 NHS trusts in England treat on average 42,438 patients a year. Although hospital-level patient data is not published by the NHS, which extrapolated means an estimated 10,524,708 patients could be at risk when visiting the 248 hospitals across the UK which exceed pollution levels.

Large cities such as Birmingham, Leeds, Leicester, London, Nottingham, Hull, Chelmsford and Southampton have at least one large NHS trust that is located in an area with unsafe levels of pollution. In addition, smaller towns such as Ipswich, Westcliff-on-Sea, Gillingham, Worthing, Kettering, Basingstoke and Colchester, are also exceeding limits.

Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, said: “Air pollution causes thousands of avoidable hospital admissions and early deaths every year, and affects more than 2,000 GP surgeries and hospitals. That is why the NHS is committed to playing our part – cutting emissions from the NHS fleet by 20% by 2024, cutting our reliance on fossil fuels for power, and reforming services to reduce the number of visits that people need to make to hospital. But although the NHS can take practical steps to reduce our impact on the environment, as well as treating those suffering the consequences of poor air, we can’t win this fight alone, so the growing consensus on the need for wider action across society is welcome.”

Two of the biggest children’s hospitals in the country, Great Ormond Street Hospital and Birmingham’s Children Hospital, are located in areas with unsafe levels of pollution. Great Ormond Street Hospital have created a Clean Air Hospital Framework and worked with Global Action Plan and Camden Council as part of the Camden Clean Air Partnership. UK100 want to see other local authorities and hospital trusts to replicate these partnership action plans.

Air pollution is the cause and aggravating factor of many respiratory and coronary conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, heart attacks, strokes and lung cancer, as well as being linked to a number of conditions from depression to diabetes, contributing to around 36,000 deaths a year.

 Current NHS figures show that 2 million people in the UK have diagnosed COPD, and over 1 million bed days per year are taken up by COPD patients. While smoking is also a contributory factor for COPD, according to the NHS, “non-smoking causes of COPD are becoming more evident. The epidemiological evidence suggests that future emergency admissions to hospital will rise”.

Dr Penny Woods, Chief Executive of the British Lung Foundation, said: “Air pollution may be invisible, but the potentially deadly consequences are very real: it can cause lung cancer, stunt children’s lung growth and makes it even harder to breathe for people with existing lung disease. It’s unacceptable that vulnerable people with NHS appointments are being exposed to toxic air that could make their health worse, and health care professionals have no choice but to breathe air pollution at work. The government must act now, for the sake of all our health.”

 Earlier in the year, UK100 brought together political leaders representing 20 million people to agree new ambitions for cleaning up our air. Leaders included the Chief Executive of the NHS, Simon Stevens and the Health and Environment Secretaries Matt Hancock and Michael Gove along with the mayors of London and Manchester Sadiq Khan and Andy Burnham.

The summit agreed to prioritise:

  • adopting World Health Organisation recommended air pollution limits as legally binding targets

  • creating an independent clean air watchdog to hold the Government to account,

  • granting Local Authorities the powers and resources, to deliver zero emission transport networks

  • enabling the setting and enforcement of ambitious standards for local air quality,

  • establishing adequately resourced local powers to set and enforce emission zones for  Non-Road Mobile Machinery

  • co-ordinated action from private and public bodies to improve air quality including the NHS and Highways England

 

The original research, which is based on predicted 2018 levels, measures patients that attend hospitals located in areas with levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) above the World Health Organisation’s limit (10μg/m3 for the annual average)).

Current legal limits for PM2.5 are twice as high as what the WHO recommends, and it is urgent to adopt and meet WHO’s limit as soon as possible to protect and promote the public’s health.

 

Regional Breakdowns

 

Region

Total Hospitals

Hospitals exceeding PM2.5 WHO guidelines

Hospitals exceeding PM2.5 WHO guidelines (%)

London

132

95

72.0%

East of England

129

47

36.4%

East Midlands

83

27

32.5%

South East

182

32

17.6%

West Midlands

99

15

15.2%

Yorkshire & Humber

106

11

10.4%

South West

166

11

6.6%

North West

127

5

3.9%

Wales

110

4

3.6%

Scotland

266

1

0.4%

North East

57

0

0.0%

Grand Total

1457

248

17.0%

 

Top 10 hospitals located in areas with the highest levels of PM2.5 pollution:

 

Hospital Name

Address

Postcode

PM2.5 Level (annual)

Lowestoft Hospital

Tennyson Road, Lowestoft, Suffolk

NR32 1PT

16.18

The Heart Hospital

The Heart Hospital, 16-18 Westmoreland Street, London

W1G 8PH

13.67

Western Eye Hospital

153-173 Marylebone Road, London, Greater London

NW1 5QH

13.18

The Royal London Hospital For Integrated Medicine

60 Great Ormond Street, London

WC1N 3HR

13.08

Northgate Hospital

Northgate Street, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk

NR30 1BU

13.05

The Princess Grace Hospital

42-52 Nottingham Place, London

W1U 5NY

13.02

Bmi Southend Private Hospital

15-17 Fairfax Drive, Westcliff On Sea, Essex

SS0 9AG

12.97

Mount Gould Local Care Centre

200 Mount Gould Road, Mount Gould, Plymouth, Devon

PL4 7PY

12.97

Great Ormond Street Hospital

Great Ormond Street, London, Greater London

WC1N 3JH

12.93

National Hospital For Neurology And Neurosurgery

Queen Square, London

WC1N 3BG

12.93

Financing Energy in the Greater South East

UK100, BEIS and the Greater South East Energy hub partnered to host the ‘Financing Energy in the Greater South East’ workshop on June 18th. The event was held in Cambridge and was the first in a series of regional workshops aimed at encouraging investment in local energy across the U.K.

The workshop was sponsored by SSE and Walker Morris.

If you are interested in sponsoring one of the upcoming workshops in either the Midlands, South West, North West or North East please contact localenergy@uk100.org.

Prior to the workshop UK100 compiled a survey to analyse the current state of the pipeline in the Greater South East. The survey results can be viewed in full below:

UK100 GSE Investing in Local Energy Survey.

The leader of Cambridge City Council, Cllr Lewis Herbert, opened the workshop and stated the council’s desire to work locally to implement the Cambridge Climate Strategy: 2016- 2021, with an aim of being carbon neutral by 2030.

The first panel focused on developing investable projects and exploring the experiences of local authorities that have developed successful low carbon energy projects.

The panel was comprised of:

Chair: Victoria Bradley, Director, Energy, Infrastructure & Government, Walker Morris LLP

 

Victoria Fletcher, Environment and Heritage Manager, Oxfordshire County Council
Delivering the Energy Strategy

Sheryl French, Project Director, Mobilising Local Energy Investment, Cambridgeshire County Council
Managing Investment Risk

Daire Casey, Business Development Manager, West Sussex County Council
First Steps in Investing in Energy Assets

Jennifer Belk, Commercial Project Development Manager, SSE Enterprise
Private Sector Perspective

 

The second panel centered on sourcing private finance and building understanding of the different types of private finance models available and bridging this with the needs of public sector low carbon projects.

The panellists for the second session were:

Chair: George Robinson, Investment and Finance, Heat Networks Delivery Unit, BEIS

 

Daniel Carrico, Head of Origination, Allia

 

Peter Hobson, Director EMEA, Sustainable Development Capital
– SDCL Energy Efficiency Investments

Claire Hanratty, Chief Executive, Leapfrog
Bridge Finance and Council Projects

Charlotte Eddington, Investments Director, Abundance

 

The upcoming workshops are invitation only and if you are interested in attending one in either the Midlands, South West, North West or North East please contact localenergy@uk100.org.

 

Study shows 8 year olds could die 7 months early due to air pollution

  • Research considers health impact in UK’s second biggest city, Birmingham
  • Air pollution impact is felt well beyond the boundary of Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone
  • The cost of air pollution in Birmingham estimated to be up to £470 million a year 
  • UK100 network of local leaders supporting plans for Clean Air Zones in major urban areas

New research commissioned by UK100, a network of local leaders, today demonstrates the human cost of air pollution. The studyshows that an eight year old child (born in 2011) could die up to seven months early if exposed over their lifetimes to air pollution.

The research, which was conducted by King’s College London on behalf of UK100, is based on analysis of data from across the UK’s second biggest city, Birmingham.

This is the first time that new government guidance on “mortality burdens” of air pollution developed by a government advisory committee (COMEAP) have been applied in practice in a large city area. The study looks at the combined impact of PM2.5 (particulate matter) and NO2 (Nitrogen Dioxide), two of the leading causes of poor health from air pollution. These pollutants could cause up to 36,000 deaths across the UK every year, and contribute to a wide range of health conditions including asthma, lung cancer, heart disease, strokes and diabetes.

The report calculates that the annualised health impact of air pollution in Birmingham is up to £470 million every year. The impact of air pollution is considered to be worse than some other major cities in the UK –  the report says there is a higher loss of life expectancy in Birmingham than in Manchester, which was also recently studied by King’s College London. Overall, the excess mortality cost to the UK of air pollution has been estimated at between £8.5bn and £20.2bn a year.

Men are more likely to be affected than women and deprivation is thought to play a significant factor in the impact of air pollution, with higher levels of deaths in poorer areas of Birmingham. Nearly half of Birmingham’s children live in the 10% most deprived areas in the country – with nearly 8,000 living in the 1% most deprived areas, according to a report by the Children’s Society.

Like other cities across the UK, Birmingham City Council is planning to introduce a ‘Clean Air Zone’ in 2020 in order to tackle pollution from transport vehicles (primarily NO2) alongside a range of measures to address the pollution from particulate matter (PM2.5).

Polly Billington, Director of UK100, a network of local leaders that campaigns on clean air, said:

“This report should be a wake up call to policy makers not just in Birmingham but across the country. We need to tackle this invisible killer which is cutting the lives of children and causing health misery for thousands of adults. By working together, local councils and central government can put in place ambitious and inclusive Clean Air Zones to tackle the most polluting sources of dirty air and let us breathe freely.”

Cllr Waseem Zaffar, Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment, Birmingham City Council, said:

“As a father of young children myself, these findings are absolutely shocking. They demonstrate the sheer scale of the major public health crisis we are dealing with in Birmingham today.

“One life cut short by poor air quality is one too many, so this is exactly why the city is taking forward measures such as the Clean Air Zone and why we continue to work with other cities across the country to tackle this problem together, but we also need strong leadership on this issue at a national government level.”

Sue Huyton, coordinator of the Clean Air Parents’ Network which covers Birmingham, said: “It’s awful that children living in the UK are breathing air that may shorten their lives. As a parent, you want to do everything you can for your children, but when it comes to air pollution you can feel helpless – that’s why those in power must step up. We need the government and Birmingham City Council to take ambitious action to tackle the toxic air in this city, and we need them to do it now.”

Dr David Dajnak, Principal Air Quality Scientist, King’s College London, said: “This study highlights that reducing Birmingham’s air pollution should provide Brummies with important health benefits.”

UK100 is supporting major cities across the country including Birmingham to introduce ambitious ‘Clean Air Zones’ to tackle air pollution from polluting cars, HGVs, vans and buses. This would encourage residents and businesses to shift away from older polluting vehicles to other forms of transport including ultra low emissions vehicles such as electric cars and vans, as well as bikes, walking and public transport.

A number of cities are planning to introduce Clean Air Zones, and London’s ULEZ (Ultra Low Emissions Zone) introduced earlier this year has already had an impact on reducing air pollution. An impact report on the first month of the ULEZ shows that the numbers of older, polluting vehicles has reduced by over a quarter.

The study was focused on air pollution changes within the Birmingham city area.  Reductions in emissions will also have benefits for air pollution concentrations in the wider Greater Birmingham and West Midlands region.  For example, reductions in NOx emissions will reduce nitrate concentrations and thus PM2.5 concentrations in the wider region.

UK100 represent a cross-party group of local authorities and elected mayors from across the UK are calling for Clean Air Zones to be introduced in major towns and cities in the UK. The group are also calling for tough new legislation to be introduced by The Government to tackle air pollution as part of a new Environment Bill. This would include:

  • Adoption of World Health Organization recommended air pollution limits as legally binding targets to be achieved by 2030.
  • Creation of an adequately funded and empowered, independent watchdog to hold the Government’s actions on air quality and other environmental issues, including Climate Change, to account
  • Granting Local Authorities the powers they need to deliver zero-emission transport networks.
  • Setting and enforcing ambitious standards for local air quality, including for solid fuel stoves and setting energy efficiency standards including for existing buildings.
  • Establishing local powers to set and enforce emission zones for non-road mobile machinery such as construction equipment.
  • Requiring action from private and public bodies to improve air quality, such as ports, Highways England, Homes England, Environment Agency and Directors of Public Health.

Areas of Birmingham most affected by air pollution 

The results varied by constituency with highest in Erdington and lowest in Hall Green. The ranking by constituency did not fully follow the ranking in pollutant concentrations. This is because the results are also influenced by variations in death rates by constituency, which in turn are driven in part by the proportion of elderly in the population and the level of deprivation. These are based on figures as of 2011 (most recent data available).

The report provides figures for both PM2.5 and NO2 separately but then uses one or the other as the best indicator pollutant rather than adding results together to avoid any overestimation (details in the full report). The ‘best indicator’ approach may result in a small underestimate.”

Zone Anthropogenic PM2.5 and NO2 – Attributable Deaths
Erdington 75-91
Hodge Hill 69-85
Yardley 65-81
Selly Oak 56-72
Sutton Coldfield 56-72
Perry Barr 56-69
Ladywood 50-60
Northfield 49-64
Edgbaston 47-59
Hall Green 46-57
Birmingham City Total 570-709

What to Expect – Clean air and the Environment Bill

What to Expect – Clean air and the Environment Bill

Author: Jason Torrance, Clean Air Cities Director, UK100

 

On 18 July 2018, Prime Minister Theresa May, announced that the Government would introduce a wide-ranging Environment Bill that will cover sectoral environmental regulation and standard setting in areas such as air quality, wildlife and habitats, better management of resources, water and waste. As the first dedicated environment bill for over twenty years this is a momentous commitment by Government and one that has the potential to transform environmental legislation and the policy that supports it.

 

Although the timing of the introduction of the proposed legislation into UK Parliament is not certain, the need for strong and ambitious environmental legislation is critical. There is a consensus that existing legislation needs to be updated and wider, more ambitious legislation is required to maintain protection for our environment after leaving the European Union.

 

At present the full draft legislation has not been published – and will enter the public domain upon entering Parliament. So far, we have seen publication of the ‘Draft Environment (Governance and Principles) Bill 2018’, an ‘Environment Bill: policy paper’ and various other documents.    

 

Current understanding is that air quality will feature prominently within the proposed legislation with many of the measures proposed already outlined out in the Government’s Clean Air Strategy 2019. Commitments are set out in the strategy to introduce an up to date legislative framework for tackling air pollution at national and local level, and to strengthen local authority powers with respect to air quality.

 

For clean air – the Bill will seek to build upon The Environment Act 1995 which established The Environment Agency as well as the designation of Air Quality Management Areas. It will also integrate and update the Clean Air Act 1993, introduced to address air pollution from smog caused by the widespread burning of coal for residential heating and by industry. These two current pieces of legislation will provide a key base from which the Bill will be able to expand upon.

 

Formal scrutiny of the draft Environment (Governance and Principles) Bill has been carried out in the UK Parliament by both by The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee and also The Environmental Audit Committee – both raising significant concerns. Local leaders have also advocated for the strongest environmental protections and necessary resources for their delivery – together with environment groups, and many in business and industry.

 

At the second National Clean Air Summit, February 2019, local leaders agreed a series of priorities that need to be included in the upcoming Environment Bill in order to improve air quality across the U.K. If taken forward, the priorities have the potential to transform environmental legislation and the policy that supports it, and put in place measures that will deliver clean air for generations to come.

 

For further information take a look at our more detailed Clean Air Legislation briefing.

Barclays support for local energy projects

Barclays has a keen interest in Renewable Energy and Green Finance and we are working today to engage both our client base as a whole, and the local authority sector, to support the transition to the low carbon economy. Barclays is a great supporter of financing local projects and continues to be the largest UK banking provider to the local authority sector with some form of relationship with 70% of all local authorities. We have 8 Relationship Directors with a local authority sector specialism and these bankers provide day to day transactional banking to 108 local authorities.  Barclays’ commitment to the sector is further demonstrated clearly through £4 billion of lending facilities that we extend to local authorities.

In this context we have insight into the challenges we see in the sector through our discussion with our local authority client base. One such example is central government funding with estimates suggesting there could be an overall funding gap of £5bn in local authority finances. At the same time LAs are under significant pressure to increase their investment in housing, with homelessness an increasing problem across the U.K.  Add to this significant social and funding challenges and it’s not altogether surprising that there are challenges allocating cash to the development of potential renewable energy projects.

Nonetheless, the need to do so is pressing. We are seeing a response and although individual local authorities may differ, their environmental strategy generally centers around 5 pillars of sustainability – Air Quality; Transport; Waste Management; Energy Efficiency; Planning and Development.

Some of the recent, innovations actions we have seen local authorities putting into place include:

 

  • Barking and Dagenham Council, launched its own greener energy provider on 21st Beam Energy, which is a not-for-profit company and will help residents save money whilst using 100% green electricity from certified UK based solar and wind generators

Why are Barclays interested?

Banks and financing partners have a role to play in mobilising the capital to meet this generational challenge. But the financial incentive alone does not tell the full story of our interest – regulation, reputation and commercial drivers all impact our client base.

When we view the broader issues through this lens having a clear, coherent and comprehensive strategy around sustainability is not optional for successful organisations.

What are the issues Barclays faces in rolling out Green Finance?

One issue facing Barclays is a lack of information. Not knowing where to go in a fragmented market if you want to do something delays and prohibits investment reaching the desired recipients. A second issue is a lack of demand and awareness of Green Finance.  There are lots of projects and concepts that are not getting to the stage that they require confirmed financing and a lack of projects to finance leads to fewer projects being funded.

Other issues include:

  • We don’t know what we don’t see – we know that lots of projects are out there but don’t get through the development phase so never reach us to request debt financing
  • Not a priority for businesses or other investment programmes
  • Project development costs and understanding of technology are a key inhibitor.
  • Insufficient incentivisation in the banking products – presently there is no capital benefit, no incentive to dilute our returns in a highly competitive and regulated market.

What are Barclays doing?

In order to best ensure that these projects are funded Barclays is taking a number of steps. We are speaking to our clients and providing thought leadership through events e.g. our Green Frontiers Conference. We are changing our own operations and setting science-based targets, while we now also employ sustainability coordinators on new-to-market sustainable or green banking facilities. These actions, amongst many others, are helping to ensure Barclays is able to fund local energy projects as effectively and responsibly as possible.

 

What does the future hold?

There are several expectations that Barclays currently has for the future.  We anticipate successful and well established IPF  business – supporting the financing of the renewable energy sector for many years.  We also anticipate an exciting period with billions spent in offshore wind in 2018, 2019.

We expect new waste-to-energy plants to open in 2019 and it may also be the year that we see subsidy free schemes in onshore wind and solar that are genuinely commercially viable and replicable.

Energy storage will remain a key topic for the industry as will unsubsidised solar and of course we await the emergence of new and disruptive technologies as we see the mass roll out of EVs and associated infrastructure in the coming years.

Therefore, we feel that there is a lot for us to do. And we are developing the tools to help us meet these needs.

 

Author:

Ross Taylor, Barclays Industry Director – Manufacturing, Transport and Logistics

 

Camden’s Clean Air Action Plan

Author: Adam Harrison, Cabinet Member for Improving Camden’s Environment, London Borough of Camden

 

Last week I was pleased to launch Camden’s new Clean Air Action Plan, which will run from 2019 to 2022 and is our most ambitious to date.

 

When I took on the environment role two years ago and began to grapple with the issue of air quality, it became clear that we should turn the longstanding advice about Particulate Matter — that there is no ‘safe’ level of it for our air — into policy. This would require pledging to aim for the more stringent World Health Organization levels, which mandate lower levels of PM than current standards do.

 

This is no easy goal anywhere, least not in Camden’s highly urban London setting in north-central London. As if to underscore the challenge, our choice of location for launching our new Plan was Friends House on the Euston Road — effectively a six-law motorway cutting right through the city. But the public deserve nothing less. How to get to these tougher levels though? It made simple sense to do the following: identify the sources of pollution, what impact current and future actions would make on them, and find out if these actions are enough to get us there.

 

It also made sense to make a special call out to the community in Camden — if we were to sit on our own devising actions as a council alone, no doubt we would make some impact. But air pollution is by nature a shared problem. For that reason, we set up the Camden Clean Air Partnership, drawing on the citizens’ assembly model to ensure Camden residents have their say, alongside a combination of those who produce air pollution and those who have to put up with it: and, really, we all fall into both categories. Chaired by Professor Muki Haklay, residents were joined by businesses such as logistics firm UPS, institutions like UCL and Great Ormond Street Hospital, and community groups like the Older People’s Advisory Group and dedicated environment groups like Camden Air Action. Together they devised and agreed the actions that now form part of the new Camden Clean Air Action Plan.

 

Meanwhile, King’s College London analysed the ‘input actions’ and found that we could get close to WHO levels by our target date of 2030 — but not quite. While the study is likely fairly conservative in its assessment — we could well end up doing better, especially once the effect of measures like Sadiq Khan’s ULEZ are fully known — we now know what we always suspected: that we need a partnership approach like in Camden but extended nationally and internationally.

 

As a first step, we need stronger action from the government. Defra’s recently published Air Quality Strategy has committed to halving the population living in areas with concentrations of fine PM above the WHO guideline levels, but fails to formally adopt the WHO values. This is something that it should commit to within the new environment bill where stricter pollutant levels can be set. (Camden asked government to do this within our response to Defra on their Air Quality Strategy.) And should the government do this, it ought to follow a similar approach by analysing pollution sources and creating a plan that identifies what needs to be done to meet the WHO values. This is especially important at government level, as the Camden-King’s analysis identified that a large source of particulates were coming from outside of London and some even from continental Europe. This approach would also help to create targeted measures which would achieve the greatest reductions — rather than just having a spread-bet approach that fails to guarantee results.

 

Meanwhile, the actions the Camden Clean Air Partners have committed to are wide-ranging and exciting. UPS is electrifying its fleet operating out of Kentish Town. Great Ormond Street has released its Clean Air Hospital Framework and is looking into consolidating patient transport. John Lewis Partnership has pledged to run Waitrose lorries entirely on biomethane gas generated from food waste. And Camden Council itself is taking new steps to reduce air pollution from building sites, including construction vehicles. Our new Transport Strategy also aims to cut motor traffic on the borough’s roads up by to 25 percent and to help people transition to walking and cycling for short journeys.

 

Our new plan runs for the next three years — but we have a 2030 goal for WHO limits. How can we check up on our own progress, and how can others see what we’re doing? To ensure we have a standard to work to throughout the coming decade, Camden has set specific pollutant interim targets between 2022, 2026, and 2030. These targets have been set to align with our future action plans so that if we are short of meeting a target, there will be justification for implementing more stringent actions. We are also looking forward to continuing to work with our Camden Clean Air Partnership members to support the delivery of the actions they have committed to, and to agreeing additional actions and welcoming new members to the Partnership.

 

Public opinion has lately — rightly — begun to refocus on climate change. That too is a colossal challenge, and in Camden we will be drawing on the lessons of our partnership approach to instate a citizens’ assembly on the climate emergency this summer to advise us on a new carbon plan for the 2020s. Averting climate catastrophe is even harder than bringing the air we breathe up to acceptable levels. The latter is hard and also relies greatly on the actions of others. But it is achievable, if we all set out our roadmaps to get there.

Let’s stop being dumb when it comes to planning Smart Cities

If the term ‘Smart Cities’ feels like it’s been around for ages that’s probably because it has. Although local authorities are starting to understand what smart cities are, confusion still abounds – they are not one size fits all as a smart city is essentially a set of building blocks brought together to deliver additional value. The challenge is knowing which blocks to bring together, when, why, and how.

It is clear that many are still struggling with the “Why”. Key building blocks like smart parking are well understood, we now have smart city standards, and we will soon have a CCS procurement framework; but many are still failing to look at Smart City solutions and services holistically and are therefore not full grasping the additional value attainable through joined up thinking.

The elevator pitch for Smart Cities rejoices in how silos are broken down through connectivity and service integration. Yet despite this, procurement for full fibre rollout continues in parallel to procurement for EV charging, heat networks, and so forth. All of which are potential components of a Smart City, all have the capability to be smart in their own right, but crucially all of which could be integrated.

So why bother to join up the various strands of a Smart City? Well, consider the underlying infrastructure: fibre, power and heat all need to go in the ground so if deployment is co-ordinated, through shared trenching, disruption can be significantly reduced.

Furthermore, fibre rollout requires street cabinets, a number of which will be powered; this combination of trenching and power is ideal for EV rollout. Hence benefits can be achieved, for example, by designing the fibre route and powered cabinet positioning via taxi ranks and parking to support rapid charger deployment. Or consider heat networks, these require power, as do fast chargers. Can benefits be gleamed from co-locating e.g. around bus depots or charging hubs?

Due to increasing densification in city centres it is getting ever more difficult to reinforce the underlying power grid to meet demand. This can lead to situations where development potential is subdued by the prohibitive cost of providing power. However, operating heat, power and EV charging as part of an integrated energy system has the potential to alleviate some of these issues.

The above measures, coupled with adoption of new technologies, may well see power bottlenecks eradicated completely. SSE is currently trialling Graphene-based solar generation that can be panel, glass or building cladding. It has an efficiency of circa 54%. This is around three times the world best output from standard PV panels. Using this technology, buildings will become net generators, supporting neighbouring load, enabling rollout of Rapid EV charging and providing the power needed for heat pumps to warm the buildings. However, this can only be achieved by joining up silos through the introduction of smart systems that control assets, smooth peaks and troughs and manage customer behaviours.

Moving away from energy, more or less all cities have aspirations to rollout ultra-fast broadband yet the cost of reaching every home is challenging. To address this SSE Enterprise Telecoms has taken the innovative step of running fibre through the sewers, thus providing significant discount on trenching costs and improving viability. By breaking out of the sewer at key points and connecting to street lights the signal can be propagated using microwave technology daisy chaining down the street and subsequently beaming out into the home. Although not fibre to the home, the bandwidth deployable will be substantial.

Giving fibre investors the rights to commercialise the lamp posts improves the business case further by introducing wider smart city revenue potential such as 4G infill and 5G. Depending on how the deal is structured, this could also develop a further revenue stream for the authority. Where authorities have significant funding challenges, the fibre initiative could be integrated with a Lighting as a Service model (which sees the LED street light conversion taken off balance sheet). Both are safe asset investments and as a combined offer the potential is substantial.

Linking such fibre initiatives with smart lighting platforms presents further opportunities. Smart lighting providers, such as SSE’s Mayflower, are extending their offering into additional services such as smart parking, assisted living and air quality monitoring in order to exploit their underlying narrow band communications networks. For example, narrow band for sensors and monitors to support assisted living and fibre to support video GP appointments, diagnostics and counselling. Such communications into the home can alleviate loneliness by enabling social prescribing and befriending volunteer networks.

To answer the “Why” and fully grasp smart city benefits takes vision. The final challenge is then the “How” and most notably from a political and not technical viewpoint. Smart city building blocks span silos. To bring them together requires these silos to be broken down, which in turn requires strong leadership from the top.

 

“Cities making the difference—Giant batteries and power for the people after Oxford wins £81m in green funding

Author: Tom Hayes, Cabinet Member for Safer and Greener Environment, Oxford City Council

 

We have 11 years to limit climate change catastrophe. Urgent and unprecedented changes are needed to dent the mood of complacency that still stalks the corridors of national governments. Climate change may be a global challenge, but here in Oxford we have never left it to governments to fix and today my council can share news about £81 million of funding to accelerate our journey to a Zero Carbon Oxford and make our Zero Emission Zone a practical reality.

A £41 million project—which will include giant batteries with a total capacity of 50MW to balance more intermitted renewable energy on the grid—is a game changer for the city and a win-win for everyone. Whether you cycle, walk, drive, hop on the bus, or ride in taxis, everyone living, visiting, and working in Oxford will benefit from cleaner air and a faster journey to Zero Carbon.

A new Energy SuperHub consisting of the world’s largest commercial hybrid energy storage facility, electric vehicle (EV) charging points and ground source heat pumps is set to be built in Oxford, making it a model for cities around the world to cut carbon and improve air quality. My city council will invest some of the £41 million secured on new electric bin collection trucks, sweepers, tippers and vans. We are taking a hand-on-heart approach to how we deliver public services and electrifying more of our fleet is key.

The funding will support the Council to offer a ‘Try before you Buy’ scheme for the city’s Black Cab drivers. Our Black Cab drivers are a credit to the city, moving people around safely and working closely with the Council to make the Zero Emission Zone a success. Together we want to create a green and clean Black Cab fleet with the iconic London look, but drivers are eager for support to clean our air and earn a living. When taxi drivers aren’t on the road, they aren’t earning, so the City Council has begun servicing electric taxis to ensure drivers need not take long trips away from Oxford to get their cars repaired. By giving this practical ‘Try before you buy’ support, we can speed up our Black Cab fleet’s journey from 0% zero-emission capable to 100% by 2025, as provided for by our Zero Emission Zone.

Money-saving ground source heat pumps will subsequently be installed in around 300 buildings and homes to halve their carbon footprint from heating and reduce operating costs by 25% with innovative heat pumps that can be controlled via smart phones. Approximately 100 ultra-rapid and fast chargers will be installed initially at a public charging station on the A34 and at the council’s main vehicle depots. The network will also run past the city’s two main bus depots, providing the opportunity for their fleets to go electric.

This £41m once-in-a-generation downpayment on Oxford moves the Council closer to achieving this vision. Leading businesses are investing in Oxford because they recognise that we’re trialling new technologies exactly like Energy Superhub Oxford. Today’s announcement allows us as a city to embrace our technological future by working with partners in a consortium led by Pivot Power which consists of Habitat Energy, Kensa, redT Energy and the University of Oxford.

In other good news shared today, Oxfordshire will receive £40 million of funding to take back control of energy. Project LEO will return power to the people, so that we can generate clean energy for our own neighbourhoods. By creating opportunities for communities to trade the energy they generate, use, and store at a local level, Project LEO will empower people, companies, and local areas to build an energy system that works for people and planet.

The project will trial a smart local energy system – or ‘smart grid’ – which explores how the growth in local renewables, electric vehicles, battery storage, and demand side response can be supported and help in reducing charges to consumers. The system will balance local demand with local supply help test markets, assess the benefits of flexibility to the energy system, and, crucially, show the potential for people and communities to become active energy citizens in the future.

Critically, Project LEO will enable Oxfordshire based social enterprise, the Low Carbon Hub (which my council belongs to), to grow its existing portfolio of 40+ energy projects bringing another £16 million of community energy projects to the County.

Oxford City Council has been awarded £1.6m for its role in the project from the Government’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, as part of the successful £10.26m bid for the Oxford element of the overall £41m project. On top of this funding, Project LEO has been awarded £13.8m from the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), and will be supported by £26m of private funding from the project partners. Carefully targeted government money can make a real difference to local clean energy projects. Our hope is that other councils will seek to follow Oxford’s example and learn from our projects. We all need to have smart clean energy as soon as possible.

By building partnerships to achieve more together than we can alone, my council is innovating to tackle our climate and public health crises. Two of the most radical steps that a council can take are embracing new technologies and welcoming them into our communities, and also driving wider debate about our energy future by testing new models that empower citizens. Our councils are not prepared to kick the can down a shortening road—every year that substantial action on air pollution and carbon neutrality is delayed is another year when hundreds of people will die preventable deaths and our planet suffers. That’s why these investments announced today aren’t just a game-changer—they’re also a life- and planet-saver.