Air Quality in Putney High Street


Since 2010 Wandsworth Council has been monitoring air quality on Putney High Street through real time monitoring stations. The project has identified high levels of nitrogen dioxide and the council has developed and delivered a far reaching action plan to tackle the localised issue. This has now resulted in a major drop in pollution episodes but more work needs to be done to improve the situation further.


Identify the sources of the high street’s pollution

Secure new investment in public transport servicing the high street

Raise awareness of the problem and the steps local people, businesses and public authorities can take to address it


In 2011 a study was commissioned by the council to identify which vehicle types were responsible for the high street’s pollution problems. Real time monitoring station data was cross referenced with data from number plate recognition cameras to provide information on the numbers and types of vehicles travelling along the high street and determine emissions from each vehicle type for each hour of the day. The results showed buses were responsible for over two thirds of oxides of nitrogen pollution.

The results from the study provided the evidence to lobby Transport for London for improvements to be made to the bus fleet travelling along Putney High Street.

93 buses had new technology fitted to their exhaust systems to reduce their oxides of nitrogen emissions. 89 of the buses were in regular use along Putney High Street.

A further in-depth study has been undertaken to assess the impact of the bus retrofit programme on nitrogen dioxide concentrations along Putney High Street.

The study concluded that a reduction in monitored concentrations coincided with the new technology being fitted to the exhaust systems of the bus fleet.

There were 42% fewer exceedences of the hourly NO2 objective recorded at a Council monitoring station located close to the kerb in the second half of 2013 when compared to the second halves of 2010 to 2012. At the side of the pavement furthest from the traffic the fall was 72%.

However the council believes that improvements to the bus fleet in isolation will not result in the achievement of the one hour NO2 objective. Putney High Street remains a very congested road with a stop-start traffic flow, which is affected by vehicles delivering to businesses in the High Street. More actions are needed and the council’s campaign continues.


PHS Photo