Mayor Sadiq Khan calls for government action to protect the capital’s waterways
Fiona HarveyLast modified on Mon 23 Dec 2019 15.37 GMT
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has called on the government to provide more funding to clean up the pollution blighting London’s rivers, after a study highlighted the toxic effects on water from driving in the capital’s most congested areas.
The River Brent in west London and the River Lea in the east, at 18 miles and 42 miles respectively, are worst affected by pollution from roads. Concern over pollution has concentrated on toxic air, which is killing and shortening the lives of tens of thousands of people every year, but road pollution is also damaging the water supply.
Road runoff pollution in rivers and canals comes from spills of oil, diesel and petrol, and from the wearing of tyres and braking systems, which are left as residues that are then washed off the roads by rain and flushed into waterways. Road runoff pollution is one of the biggest sources of damage to London’s dozens of waterways, of which only one – the Carshalton Arm, source of the River Wandle – is classed as “good” under EU standards.
The new research, published on Monday, for the first time maps some of the biggest sources of road runoff pollution in the capital. They include the North Circular road at Alperton in west London and Chingford in the east, a slip road to the A40 at Ealing in west London, and Jenkins Lane in Beckton, east London.
One problem with preventing road runoff is that the sources of pollution are under the oversight of various government agencies and departments – the Environment Agency, the Highways Agency, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), and the Department for Transport as well as local authorities. Most of these have faced severe budget cuts in the past decade.
Khan, the Labour mayor, said: “The government must step up to provide the Environment Agency and highways authorities with the appropriate funding for measures to properly protect the capital’s rivers.”
Hundreds of pollutants, including heavy metals, are routinely found in road runoff, and they can kill fish or other aquatic life and cause long-term damage to rivers – and potentially to human health, as they can affect drinking water sources, which must be extensively tested and expensively cleaned up if pollutants are found to be present.
Road runoff pollution damages London’s rivers, study finds I The Guardian
Mayor Sadiq Khan calls for government action to protect the capital’s waterways Fiona HarveyLast modified on Mon 23 Dec 2019 15.37 GMT The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has called on the government to provide more funding to clean up the pollution blighting London’s rivers, after a study highlighted the toxic effects on water from… [Read More]