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LSx Air Quality Conference 14/11/2013

Cleaner Air 4 Communities

The challenge

An estimated 9,500 Londoners die prematurely each year from causes related to air pollution[1]. Air pollution contributes to a myriad of health problems including asthma, heart disease and lung


Those who live in deprived communities suffer disproportionately from the poorest air

Although London’s policymakers, planners and health professionals understand that the poor air quality in the capital is contributing to ill health and fatalities, London is not experiencing the essential improvements in air quality fast enough. quality. 

Aim of project

This two year project aims to create a critical mass of communities that are actively engaged in making a difference to air quality in London. It will also build on our successful Cleaner Air 4 Schools work. Communities are helped to understand and map air quality in their local area, develop action plans to appropriate policy change, and work collectively to share ideas and learning through inspirational learning. We will:


  • Increase understanding of, and engagement with, air quality issues amongst communities, London opinion formers and decisions makers.
  • Enable local organisations to directly influence local and strategic planning and policy.


Who are we working with?


We are working and have conducted citizen science mapping with the Battersea Society, Sustainable Merton, Transition Town Tooting, Gascoigne Place Neighbourhood Association in Tower Hamlets, Hackney Residents Association, St Mathew’s church in Brent and the Hornbeam Centre in Waltham Forest.


How is it being delivered?

LSx is delivering training and support to three or four communities across London through the following approaches:

  • Air Quality Teams – Local Advocates will be recruited from community organisations. 
  • Citizen Science – The teams are trained to use equipment such as diffusion tubes, ghost wipes and lichen observation to measure and map nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter concentration levels and identify air pollution ‘hot-spots’.
  • Action Planning – Working with local businesses, schools and other stakeholders. The teams will identify key areas for action and how these can be realised through changes to local, regional and/or national policy.
  • Peer-to-Peer Social Marketing – Teams will promote awareness and share learning in their local communities.
  • Cross-London Learning events – Air Quality Teams will share learning and data at annual events for all those engaged in similar work across the capital.
  • Funding – If you belong to a deprived community, LSx can help you by supporting the costs of the diffusion tubes.

The toolkit can be found here.



“Thanks for the help and information we have received from LSx in getting to grips with citizen science in our area. We are now confident in taking the campaign forward with Wandsworth council” 

Secretary of the Battersea Society


“It made me much more aware of the pollution problems and I am grateful for this.”

Brent resident


“I was so surprised when I saw how bad the pollution is. There is so much that we can do!”

Battersea resident



For more information please contact Hannah Gardiner on 0207 234 9402 or emai

Remember to sign up to our air quality bulletin.




[1] King's College:


Case Study 3: Proposed development at Archway in London Borough of Islington


Environmental Justice or Inequality?

Environmental Justice

Relevant Themes

Regeneration, development, pedestrian movements and safety.

Profile of the community

Residents and shop owners in Archway. Focus groups were involved in the consultation and included residents of Girdlestone Estate, BAME groups and young people (aged 14-18).

Barriers to resolve & what was done

Barriers: Accessibility and Awareness. Better Archway Forum (BAF) is a focus group of a cross section of the community, set up in January 2005 in response to plans for redevelopment at Archway. Impact included reduced access to local facilities, which in-turn discourages investment and enjoyment or area during construction. Planning and design mechanisms were sought to improve access to local facilities and public spaces to increase ease of movement through area and therefore perception of safe and vibrant community.

Response: The Mapping Change for Sustainable Communities Project (MCSC) led by UCL with funding from UrbanBuzz and project partners including London 21 and Planning Aid for London developed a community information hub for current and future development and a tool to allow search for groups and to enable them to work together to shape developments.

BAF undertook pedestrian counts measured at different times of the day. The data was analysed and compared with the view that the largest group of users could be given priority in future improvement works.  As a result the Archway Development Framework engaged with BAF in scenario design, transport options and consultation process.

SMART targets/ indicators of inequality

Digital Mapping


As a result of the consultation process it was revealed that the majority of people preferred gradual and partial redevelopment. The focus groups helped to improve the community representation and highlight the differences between the groups.  For instance, the importance of addressing problems such as crime, to young people.

Islington Borough Council and Transport for London will consider the pedestrian survey results as part of future plans. Mapping has identified concerns from the local community and helped in communicating with the local authority and decision-makers. Mapping has increased the capacity of the community regarding data collection and analysis and assisting in helping to produce action plans.


MCSC Project will train local people and communities to use these maps, which will help build long-term skills and engagement.

Use of SMS technology provides information about local events, overcoming a barrier of engagement due to lack of information.


Contact: Dr Muki Haklay (Project Coordinator)

Photograph by Only Alice

Case Study 2: Marks Gate in London Borough of Barking and Dagenham

Environmental Justice or Inequality?

Environmental Inequality

Relevant Themes

Perception of area, safety and community facilities.

Profile of the community

Estate community in Barking and Dagenham. Population characterised into 3 of Defra’s population segments: long-term restricted (largest), honestly disengaged & committed greens.

Barriers to resolve & what was done

Barriers: Accessibility and Attitudes. Poor community facilities. The financial incapacity of the environmental organisations (Local Agenda 21 organisation, etc) is a reflection of area wide poverty and their lack of success in community improvement. Top priorities were outlined as increasing the amount of youth provision (youth club had closed), reduce the level of anti-social behaviour (high crime rates) and improve the condition of the subways (fears over safety). Tackling these issues requires intensive support and development from the Local Authority, Police and Transport Agency.

Response: Community ambassadors were recruited by London Sustainability Exchange and trained in the use map-based interviews by LSx and project partners London 21 Sustainability Network as a method of identifying priorities in the area.  More than 100 residents were surveyed. A discussion at the Marks Gate Agenda 21 group informed the choice of categories for the data collection, which included a) perceptions, b) safety and c) community facilities. Over 4 weeks, the ambassadors used A3 maps of the area to ask residents to highlight areas of concern/interest regarding each category, and provide a brief explanation of specific issues or suggestions for improvement.

SMART targets/ indicators of inequality

The area is identified as long-term restricted and isolated by the A13 and A14, poor transport links and perceptions of an unsafe neighbourhood.  Local Area Maps were used to pick up on the areas that residents felt needed improving and also areas that were well used or liked.


This project has highlighted aspects of environmental inequality and given residents an opportunity to articulate how these affect their quality of life to local service providers. The results from the map-based interviews were presented at a Local Agenda 21 and neighbourhood management meeting. An Action Plan was also produced to highlight which issues were being addressed and which remained outstanding. The outstanding actions were subsequently incorporated into the Neighbourhood Management Plan for the area and contributed to local LSP/LAA processes.


The mapping has not only led to an action plan, which has been adopted by the local agenda 21 group, but also has seen many areas of concern addressed by the Neighbourhood Action Management Plan. By supporting and providing training for the community champions it has enabled them to take these issues forward and given them the skills and confidence to lobby local government and encourage action.


Gathering evidence through a visual format such as mapping can effectively engage and enable residents and stakeholders to take action.

It would be useful to repeat the mapping exercise to see if issues have been addressed and if concerns have changed.

Contact: London Sustainability Exchange 0207 234 9400

Case Study 1: Pepys Estate in London Borough of Lewisham

Environmental Justice or Inequality?

Environmental Justice

Relevant Themes

Noise pollution from a local scrapyard near the centre of the estate and in close proximity to a Primary and Nursery School.

Profile of the community

Estate community in LB Lewisham, characterised by high rise tower blocks and social housing.

Barriers to resolve & what was done

Barriers: On the Pepys Estate, residents and members of the local Community Forum expressed concern about disturbingly high levels of noise associated with a local scrapyard, often continuing outside normal working hours. This noise was affecting the quality of life of residents up to 350 metres from the scrapyard. Residents explained to project workers that they have been trying to deal with this problem for over six years.

Response: London Sustainability Exchange recruited four resident Ambassadors within the Pepys Estate community. Ambassadors were then trained by project partners London 21 Sustainability Network and University College London (who also provided equipment) in the use of noise monitoring equipment and data recording. They then observed and recorded noise volumes and characteristics in various locations surrounding the scrapyard at different times of day. In total Ambassadors recorded 385 three-minute meter readings over a seven-week period. 

Project partners, UCL and London 21, analysed the data and illustrated the results using Geographical Information Systems (GIS) mapping technology. The noteworthy outcomes were then presented to representatives from London Borough of Lewisham and the Environment Agency in order to inform their approach to addressing the issue.

SMART targets/ indicators of inequality

The following presented issues of inequality for residents:

  • Proximity of industrial activities to residential and education sites
  • Perceived or real increase in intensity of operation at scrap yard
  • Sale and private redevelopment of a tower block which is isolated from noise nuisance and adjacent to the Thames.

Indicators include noise level meter readings analysed using GIS. Data was transferred into noise pollution maps and revealed a clear picture of the actual ambient noise levels and the affected area.


The London Borough of Lewisham and the Environment Agency were inspired to explore the issue further following the work done by the community. After seeing the results of the Ambassadors survey the Environment Agency appointed an acoustic consultant to carry out a detailed analysis of noise from the scrapyard. The residents who carried out the survey met the consultant to share their information and have worked with the council to agree an action plan moving forward.


This has provided an opportunity for greater community engagement and encouraged speaking up for an improved environment. It has also provided evidence that a visually engaging ‘citizen science’ survey technique such as mapping can provide information that local service providers can effectively respond to.


Gathering evidence through a visual format such as mapping can effectively engage and enable residents and stakeholders to take action.
It was made clear that 'social surveys' would complement noise surveying in future and that there is definitely a potential benefit of extending such surveys to a wider audience.
Contact: London Sustainability Exchange 0207 234 9400


Motivate London Events

Motivate London is holding several events on an annual basis to help support London professionals motivate Londoners to take on board more environmentally sustainable behaviour.

Building in Sustainability

By Samantha Heath, Director, London Sustainability Exchange

Londoners consume an astounding amount of energy -  more than Ireland and about the same as Portugal or Greece. We also churn out enough waste each day to fill St Paul's Cathedral.

Tackling Environmental Inequalities

While the overall quality of our environment may be improving, the quality of the environment can vary between different areas and communities.  People who are socially and economically disadvantaged often live in the worst environments.


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