Cities and towns across the UK are seeking to reduce carbon emissions and create healthy environments for residents, businesses and visitors. Though significant improvements to emission levels have been seen throughout lockdown, the challenge now is to retain those improvements as we seek to revitalise our town centres. With the continued rise of online retail, e-vehicles will be still more important to our green recovery and the healthy streets campaign.
A session during Real Estate Live in February led by Hammersmith BID discussed these issues and some of the ways they are being targeted in Hammersmith town centre.
The Parcels Not Pollution service, enabled by a consolidation centre and a fleet of e-bikes, is one of the BID’s flagship air quality improvement schemes. Patricia Bench of Hammersmith BID told the event that it has carried nearly 4000 parcels since its launch in September 2019, and estimates it has saved nearly 800kg of CO2 emissions. The service takes deliveries to a single central point, then ferries them by bike (some with trailers for larger parcels) to the final delivery address. It started just delivering to commercial addresses in the town centre, but added domestic deliveries when the pandemic hit in early 2020.
The service means parcels are not delivered by many (typically diesel) vans, so also reduces congestion as well as improving air quality, and as David Cockrell of e-cargobikes.com told us, is unsurprisingly set to expand to at least one neighbouring borough.
The approach was welcome to TfL, whose Libby Gibson told the event that freight traffic was responsible for 30% of the NOX emissions in the capital. We face the prospect of the pandemic making this worse, by increasing the amount of home delivery. TfL has a number of programmes active – to work with the logistics sector to reroute diesel traffic away from town centres, and by encouraging innovation through their Freight Lab Challenge. The reopening of the economy later in 2020 will be an “important habit forming moment”, she warned. It’s certainly something we need to get right.
The BID have a range of other schemes designed to make the town centre greener and cleaner – something a survey of town centre users suggested was a top priority. As Sean Moran of Helix Property said, making the area cleaner, more secure, and more pleasant to be in makes it a better place for businesses. Some of the other measures he’d overseen – such as LED lighting and decentralised air conditioning – had produced a £300,000 saving across his buildings.
Cllr Wesley Harcourt, from Hammersmith & Fulham Council described their approach to installing EV charging points, converting their own vehicle fleet to electric, the “City Tree” carbon scrubbing planting, and the no-idling programme were all targeted at making a difference. The borough has two of the top spots for pollution in the capital – the A4 and the A40 – so the action is needed.
Crucially, all these ideas and programmes can easily be replicated in town centres across the UK – so anywhere can start its journey to cleaner air by learning from Hammersmith.