Environmental campaigners are urging drivers to ditch their cars today in a bid to tackle Putney air pollution.
Members of The Putney Society are calling for the central London Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) to include Wandsworth and the rest of the congestion charge zone.
In case this proposal fails, members are suggesting a ULEZ in the Putney High Street area to offset Putney’s building layout which traps vehicle emissions at street level.
While roads will be car-free due to a city-wide cycling festival, the society will set up a stall on Lacy Road in Putney, to generate support for their petition asking the council to address Putney’s air pollution.
Deputy Chairman of The Putney Society Jonathan Callaway said: “The problem is deep seated and we recognise the solution lies only to a limited extent with the council.
“We hope to see them join a much more vocal campaign in the run up to the mayoral elections next year.”
Wandsworth Council have committed to introducing restrictions on lorry deliveries to Putney High Street.
Further steps suggested by the Putney Society include a trial of electric buses, additional parking charges for diesel vehicles, and tighter regulations on new building developments.
Mr Callaway explained that Putney particularly suffers from air pollution due to prevailing easterly winds trapping emissions between buildings – called ‘the canyon effect’.
He said that the additional usage of Putney High Street as a major route in and out of London increases harmful emissions to twice the EU limit.
Wandsworth Council held a meeting on July 23 to consult residents on the Air Quality Action Plan.
Keith Hawkins, from the Better Putney group, said the council needs to do more to understand and address Putney’s specific pollution issues.
He suggested opening up the high street and planting more trees to improve air flow.
“One thing is certain – putting unsightly big buildings on either side of the High Street is not going to help – and certainly will cause a deeper canyon to exist,” he said.
Both Mr Hawkins and Mr Callaway insist that life and business in Putney would not suffer if a ULEZ was imposed.
Mr Callaway admitted that costs would be incurred by some local vehicle owners to adapt or replace their vehicles to comply with emission restrictions.
Wandsworth Council was approached for comment.
Picture courtesy of Jonathan Callaway, with thanks