Council sorry for botched report on pollution level

Misleading analysis of LTN scheme wrongly said air was cleaner

Friday, 18th March — By Anna Lamche

Highbury Fields traffic layout

The traffic signals around Highbury Fields

ISLINGTON Council has issued an apology for falsely claiming air pollution had fallen across all of its eight low traffic neighbourhoods.

The Town Hall was accused of publishing a misleading report that claimed levels of the pollutant nitrogen dioxide (NO2) had fallen across the board since the introduction of the traffic measures.

The policy of closing roads has been celebrated by climate campaigners but condemned by drivers who say they have just caused extra jams.

An independent audit of the council report found that NO2 pollution in the Highbury scheme had in fact increased by 26 per cent.

The audit also found that the original report had underestimated the increased traffic levels on the “boundary road” of Blackstock Road North.

Urban planning company Project Centre worked with the council to produce the report. The council ended its contract with Project Centre in October, despite having signed a year long contract last summer.

Project Centre has said of the report: “While the body of the report correctly reported on the air quality monitoring, including all text and figures, Project Centre apologises for human errors in parts of its analysis.

“We are reviewing our procedures.”

The council will now be working with a new consultancy, Systra, to produce its reports.

The council’s apology has garnered widespread media attention this week as LTNs begin to make national headlines.

Environment and transport chief Councillor Rowena Champion said: “The council commissioned an independent audit into our six-month monitoring report for the Highbury West and Highbury Fields people-friendly streets neighbourhoods, which found that some errors were made by the specialist contractor that compiled the report. This included the way the air quality was reported in the summary section, although the report did include the correct air quality data.

“The six-month monitoring report has since been superseded by a new 12-month monitoring report on the Highbury neighbourhoods, which was compiled by a different contractor.

“This report shows the positive impact of the Highbury neighbourhoods, which are meeting many of their objectives – including a 72 per cent reduction in traffic within the neighbourhoods.

“A final decision has not yet been taken on the future of Highbury people-friendly streets neighbourhoods and the council will be listening ­carefully to feedback from local people on the trials.”

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