New green space eligible for fund launched by London Mayor to help business tackle pollution

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced a £1 million fund for businesses to help tackle air pollution - and green infrastructure measures are eligible under the scheme.

This pop-up garden next to The Barbican is part of a Low Emission Neighbourhood (LEN). Image: City of London Corporation
This pop-up garden next to The Barbican is part of a Low Emission Neighbourhood (LEN). Image: City of London Corporation

The Mayor’s Air Quality Business Fund aims to create five Business Low Emission Neighbourhoods (LENs) that will be awarded up to £200,000 each to develop localised strategies to improve air quality in polluted areas.

Individual businesses or groups such as Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) can apply for funding for a range of improvements, including encouraging Londoners to walk and cycle, creating new clean walking routes or providing green screens and creating new green spaces.

The move follows from a previous announcement of a £5m fund for eight local authorities to deliver five borough LENs in Shoreditch, Marylebone, Barbican, Ilford and Greenwich town centre. The LENs will also be able to attract match funding from the private sector to support delivery.

Khan said: "London’s toxic air is a health emergency and all Londoners can help us clean it up – including our city’s businesses. 

"Through Low Emission Neighbourhoods I’m already helping boroughs tackle pollution hotspots. Now I’m extending the scheme to support businesses who want to reduce pollution that affects them, their employees, customers and others living and working nearby."

The Mayor has also submitted his formal response to the government’s Air Quality Plan consultation, describing it as a "deep disappointment" and a "backwards step" in tackling the challenges of the UK’s killer air.

He said the plan lacks serious detail, fails to tackle all emission sources, such as from buildings, construction or the river, and does not utilise the government’s full resources and powers.

The Mayor has also written to Michael Gove, the new Secretary of State for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, urging him to use the opportunity of a new government to significantly strengthen the plan and requesting an urgent meeting to raise the crucial issue of air quality and its ongoing impact on the capital.

He believes the situation is now critical and the government’s target of meeting the legal requirements for air pollution by 2025 is not fast enough.

He said: "The government can no longer continue to bury its head in the sand about our toxic air. Londoners simply cannot wait. It is literally a case of life and death and I urge government to tackle this challenge immediately, because its current Air Quality Plan quite frankly is not fit for purpose.

"Future generations of Londoners will not forgive us if we fail to take the bold action needed to address the scourge of pollution once and for all.

"The good news is that there is still time to introduce the kind of measures that will make a real impact, such as introducing a vehicle scrappage fund and a 21st Century Clean Air Act. Now is the time to show real leadership and deliver."

Earlier this month, The City of London Corporation and the Friends of City Gardens launched a pop-up garden to help battle air pollution as part of a Low Emission Neighbourhood (LEN) project around the Barbican, Guildhall and Barts hospital area.

Khan also previously suggested that green infrastructure such as ‘barrier bushes’ along busy roads and in playgrounds, and creating more cycling and walking routes were among measures which could help reduce pollution around schools.

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