Pollution Study



pollution map

St Modwen, the owners of Leegate, have submitted plans to develop the run down site. The proposed Public Space is to stretch up to 16 metres back from Burnt Ash Road.

In January – February 2015, Network for Clean Air and A Better Lee Green partnered to hang nitrogen dioxide detecting tubes in the Leegate Shopping Centre and its surrounding areas.

The tubes remained in place for a month and then were sent to an independent laboratory in Oxfordshire that is used by many councils for their pollution studies. The results that came back included:

  • Tigers Head tube 75% above legal limit
  • Tube 16 metres back from Burnt Ash Road 25% above legal limits
  • Tube in the centre of the current, sheltered square 13% safely below the legal limit.
  • Tubes placed near high buildings measured higher than those placed near similar levels of traffic near open spaces.
  • (Note: Vehicles will increase by over six thousand per day under St Modwen’s proposed plans).

Prolonged exposure to nitrogen dioxide and pm2.5 (both emitted by vehicles) causes respiratory problems, can lead to cancer and can affect the development of children’s lungs. Deaths in the UK from these pollutants are predicted to be higher than those from smoking alone and those from obesity, traffic accidents and alcoholism combined in 2015 (Government figures).

St Modwen claim that planting trees will solve additional pollution caused by their new superstore. Trees and greenery serve an important role in psychological wellbeing, biodiversity, drainage and flood alleviation. However, they cannot be relied upon to adequately absorb these levels of pollution. Expert advice is that plants several stories up in resident’s gardens will not tackle the problem of pollution in public space at ground level. Trees at ground level already do not absorb existing pollutants at ground level and the levels of pollutants are predicted to increase with St Modwen’s plans.

This study shows that what makes the difference is moving people away from cars and tall buildings and sheltering them.

Local groups including the Lee Green Local Assembly Leegate Working Group, Lee Manor Society and A Better Lee Green fully support Leegate’s redevelopment but call for public space to be moved to the centre of the development and for a smaller anchor store which would attract less traffic. This study offers strong evidence for these demands.

London has a lot of traffic, but people can be sheltered from it.

Here is the press release photo that was taken for the pollution study report:

Pollution press release photo