George Osborne London's unlikely air pollution champion?

27 March 2017

Jean Lambert MEP opened a joint meeting organised by Phil Fletcher with Barnet Friends of the Earth, Barnet Green Party, and air pollution economics and legal experts.

London Green Party's Unsung Hero award-winner of 2014, Edelgard Vaswani, raised the issue of living without a car.  Barnet Council tends to plan 800 underground parking spaces per 1000 homes. Andrea Lee said, "I used to live in a council estate that the residents were up in arms that they were not going to build parking spaces for a new development that was near Elephant.  It wasn't even going to effect them!  They had parking spaces, but it is funny how people react to it." 

Last year Barnet Green Party broke the story about air pollution near schools while certain schools actually resisted our efforts, perhaps afraid about bad publicity putting off "market share", rather than embrace citizen science as an educational opportunity.

The Evening Standard has long been "some of our best allies on this": For example, reporting a story about cleaning up the iconic Black Cab fleet.  The Environment Minister recently visited a factory in Coventry, England's West Midlands, that is to make these back-to-the-future vehicles.

Before George Osborne 1 in 10 vehicles were diesel and now it is 1 in 2.

Whilst most of the 50 people at the public meeting, including a former VW employee, were from High Barnet post-codes, Alan Schneiderman from the Council's shadow cabinet, who was there with Childs Hill residents association and the Labour spokesperson said, "We certainly take air pollution seriously."

Quizzed by a Middlesex University Fine-Arts student, photo below on the right next to a masked-up organiser Phil, on working with enterprises, "We need the government to keep up the pressure because it is good for innovation."  The student, from Cricklewood, also asked for more information about getting produce locally, in terms of encouraging lifestyle change.

Jean Lambert MEP said that as young people, students will have to live with the future problems of air pollution for much longer.

The issue of the Northern Line underground toxic air was raised.  Barbara Jacobson, who chaired the meeting, said that Angel is the deepest station.

One resident who supported the petition said, "I walk quite a lot and I sometimes knock on people's windows and ask people, I can hardly breathe. Could you turn your engine off please?"

Andrea from ClientEarth said, "A lot of manufacturers are getting it."

"Is the Mayor's plan properly addressing plans in Barnet or is it going to just stop at the North Circular?"

Andrea praised the Conservative chair of Parliament's Environment Select Committee for his good work.

On George Osborne, "They are on the back foot.  They thought we were going to lose our first case and go away, nothing would happen, but we won."

A tax policy expert, Paul Drummond, says, "At Council Level awareness is key, and using that to put pressure upwards to Council, Mayor or to MPs.  On Osborne I heard he kind of regrets not doing more on air pollution when he was able to so I hope this will carry across to his new role".

Barnet Friends of the Earth launched their petition to the Council on a table at the back.  Aaron responded with a shopping list of good ideas for local and street level.  But the Council also need to be lobbying the UK government, for example for a national awareness campaign.

"I'm sure we won't let George Osborne get in our way too much."

Aaron from Friends of the Earth concluded, "There are so many stories to tell.  I really think we can win on this."

 






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