By Alice Tate-Harte
We are a small group of volunteers working to reduce pollution and promote active travel in SE23 and beyond. We last met in person back in 2020, before lockdown, but we’ve been busy since then! We are working with the Forest Hill Society Environment Committee on making a “Parklet” space in front of Forest Hill Station which will use plants to help screen pollution from the busy road.
There are now five School Streets, in our area, including Kilmorie, Dalmain, Eliot Bank, Kilmorie, Rathfern, and St William of York. In these schemes, access is restricted around the school roads at peak hours to reduce kids’ exposure to pollution. We need to work with parents and teachers from other schools on campaigning for more school streets.
Monitoring with the University of Cambridge helped us understand the problems of air pollution better and we responded to the consultation on Lewisham Council’s Air Quality Action Plan. We have worked with Mums for Lungs and Climate Action Lewisham to support the ULEZ, which is hoped to cut air pollution by 30% and we want to campaign for it to be expanded to benefit everyone in the area.
We have exciting plans for 2022, including involvement in Lewisham Borough of Culture.
We need more volunteers to grow the group so if you are passionate about the environment and have a few hours to spare, we have many ways you can help make our neighbourhood cleaner and greener. Please get in touch via
31 March 2022
By Alice Tate-Harte
25 March 2022
In March 2022, Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan came to Forest Hill to visit Forest Hill Secondary School and announced his proposal to extend the Ultra-Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) from the south and north circular roads to include all of Greater London.
Back in 2018, when the mayor was consulting about the ULEZ that came into effect in October 2021, at that time the Forest Hill Society responded to the consultation with one clear message: “Recognising the need for action to combat poor air quality, the Society would support a larger ULEZ, extending even to the full extent of Greater London.”
This proposal is particularly good news for South London and for Forest Hill. The south circular is much closer to the centre of London than the north circular. While the boundary in North London is a large duel-carriageway, the south circular is a more modest road that goes right through the heart of communities − as Forest Hill residents know only too well.
By extending the ULEZ to the whole of Greater London, there will be less pollution for miles beyond the South circular and this will hopefully have a positive impact on the health of local residents.
The proposed timescale is ‘end of 2023’, after which time drivers with more polluting vehicles will be charged £12.50 to drive anywhere in Great London – the same charge already applies to vehicles within the current ULEZ.
The Forest Hill Society welcomes this initiative and is delighted that the mayor chose Forest Hill as the place to launch this proposal.
24 March 2020
You may have met us at the Horniman Farmers’ Market where we encouraged people to plant a tree for SE23. We asked you to take away an acorn or conker seed and come back in the spring to plant the sprigs at the Horniman Triangle, to create a green screen next to the playground. At the same time, we raised £120 to plant 120 trees in developing countries through “Just One Tree”, so thank you for your donations. We realised the sprigs would be too small to plant in March (we’re still learning about trees!) and are asking people to keep your plants until November when we will have set up a planting event alongside Street Trees for Living who will be planting six large oak trees and other saplings. The best place for oak and horse chestnut trees is actually at the opposite end of the park to the playground, because of ground conditions, but we hope to get funding to fill in the gaps in the hedge and plant some more suitable saplings in this area. We hope the plants will help to screen the traffic fumes from the busy road to some extent. Watch this space or the Facebook group for news of the November planting event.
Last year we also set up an air quality monitoring programme to look at the levels of pollution in our area and measure particulate matter in the air. Lewisham Council and Kings College Air Quality Network have a useful map of air quality, but their maps are made by modelling data from just a few actual monitors across Lewisham. Their data gives an average across the day and does not account for peaks during rush hour traffic, when children are walking to school.
We are working with Jennifer Gabrys from Cambridge University and Goldsmiths to develop an enhanced monitoring programme. Jennifer has designed a small monitor called a dustbox, which is designed to look like a particle of air pollution. She has already run a successful citizen science research project in Deptford. We identified sites that we think will have bad air quality (mainly along the A205, especially where traffic idles).
We will have monitors at about 10 sites including Horniman Gardens (one by the road and one by the bandstand), Dalmain school, along Brockley Rise and Honor Oak Park, and near Forest Hill station. The monitors will collect data for 2-3 months. Jennifer will calibrate the data against the existing monitoring stations at New Cross and Honor Oak, to identify what pollution is caused by local sources (traffic) and external sources (e.g. pollution that can be blown here from European factories and from Saharan dust).
We hope to use the data to lobby for things like the London Mayor’s Healthy Neighbourhoods scheme, cycle lanes, school streets, air filters in classrooms and more green spaces and trees. We also hope it will strengthen our campaign to reduce car use, something which is also key to Lewisham Council’s climate action plan.
If you would like to find out more or have a little time to spare to help with future campaigning please email cleanairSE23@hotmail.com or see our Facebook group www.facebook.com/groups/cleanairSE23.
19 January 2020
Discussion will include:
- Update on air quality monitoring project
- Clean Air Day in April
- What do we want to focus on in 2020?
For more information about the Forest Hill Society's Clean Air campaign please visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/cleanairSE23/