Council apologises after wrongly claiming LTNs caused reduction in pollution

12 March 2022, 17:27 | Updated: 14 March 2022, 17:11

Low traffic neighbourhoods are designed to make towns more pedestrian and cyclist-friendly - but some say they cause an increase in congestion and a worsening in air quality
Low traffic neighbourhoods are designed to make towns more pedestrian and cyclist-friendly - but some say they cause an increase in congestion and a worsening in air quality. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

A London council has been forced to apologise after claiming the introduction of low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) caused a reduction in pollution, when in fact pollution increased.

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Islington Council released a report which stated, in the "key findings" section, that levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) had decreased in the Highbury West and Highbury Fields LTNs.

But the council's own report showed pollution had risen 26 per cent across Highbury, leading to residents lodging a formal complaint against the authority, the Telegraph reports.

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The document - an interim monitoring report published in October last year, for which a company called Project Centre analysed six months of LTN data - showed that NO2 levels had soared by 44 per cent outside Highbury Grove School.

The school is on a main road that residents say has seen an increase in traffic after nearby residential roads were closed to vehicles.

With residents feeling LTNs have created a "gridlock nightmare", they were shocked by the positive findings in the report, which were also tweeted out and sent in leaflet format to nearly 15,000 households.

LBC has approached Islington Council for a comment.

The Highbury West and Highbury Fields LTNs were introduced in 2021 as part of Transport Secretary Grant Shapps' "green transport revolution".

The council has conceded some of the claims in the report were not supported by figures, saying it was because the data was of an "unacceptably poor quality", gathered from equipment suffering from technical issues, or because it did "not reflect the full picture".

But residents have accused the authority of 'twisting' the data.

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A council spokesperson said it had terminated the contract with Project Centre in October "due to concerns about the general quality of the work and the capacity allocated to the project".

They said LTNs were "achieving most of their intended aims" and said: "We would like to thank those who provided feedback on the six-month interim report for the Highbury schemes, and apologise for any confusion the Interim Report may have caused."

The report has since been superseded by a new report reflecting the impact of the LTNs in their first 12 months.

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

"We are reviewing our procedures."