Chaired by Diana Sterck, the first of three annual meetings of the Merton Partnership Environment Sub Group took place on 21st January, primarily focused on the Council’s Air Quality Action Plan and Climate Action Plan. Rachael Edwards also attended to seek out areas of potential Community Champion involvement. Sustainable Merton has been running the Environment Sub Group since 2015.
For the first half of the meeting, the Group heard from Jason Andrews, the Council's Environmental Health Pollution Manager (Air Quality), who provided a progress update on Merton's Air Quality Action Plan. A primary action has been the development of an air quality planning policy document for Merton which includes strict guidance for developers. This document will take effect in summer 2020 after a public consultation phase. The Council’s air quality team has also been involved with a London-wide cleaner construction project which has brought about the creation of the world’s first low emission zone for construction equipment. Much of the Council’s focus has also been on anti-idling campaigns, with a particular emphasis on schools. This work has included workshops and signage at schools, as well as a Clean Air Challenge campaign that ran throughout January. Finally, Jason highlighted an opportunity for the public to contribute to citizen science through carrying out air quality monitoring activities with training and equipment provided by the Council. If you are interested in getting involved, please contact Rachael.
The latter half of the meeting revolved around an update on Merton's Climate Action Plan. Main steps towards the creation of this Plan have been the creation of the Climate Emergency Working Group (with which three members of Sustainable Merton are involved), and two public consultation surveys. Katie Halter, the Council’s Climate Officer, presented some of the results from the 2019 Climate Emergency Consultation Survey. An overview of the results will be available in the coming months. Through the Working Group, surveys, internal teams, and technical consultants, the Council is now moving from a phase of collecting ideas and evidence to channeling this information into a long list of potential actions. These actions will be fairly high level and allow us to understand progress towards becoming carbon neutral by 2050. Actions will be consolidated into a Draft Action Plan.