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Funding boost to help local businesses go green


Tower Hamlets Council has been awarded £350,000 from the Mayor of London’s Local Enterprise Panel to help businesses tackle air pollution in the borough.

The funding will enable the council to help small businesses reduce harmful emissions that contribute to poor air quality in Tower Hamlets.

The cash injection, which the council is matching pound for pound, forms part of plans to create more Business Low Emission Neighbourhoods (BLENs) across the capital, which will lead to cleaner air for Londoners to breathe.

John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “Poor air quality is one of the biggest public health challenges we face as an inner London borough. We want to support our local businesses to adopt more environmentally-friendly practices without affecting their competitiveness and we hope this extra funding will do just that. Traders who have benefitted from Zero Emissions Network funding have found viable low-emission alternatives to delivery, which are popular with customers and suppliers.”

In the past year, the council’s Breathe Clean campaign has focused on warning residents about the impact of idling engines as well as health effects of air pollution, which can affect vulnerable populations the most, such as children.

Projects that will be delivered through the funding will build on work to clean up the borough’s air. Schemes will include:

A ‘last mile’ delivery strategy, including cargo bikes that businesses can use to transport goods instead of using polluting vehicles.

On-site storage for market traders to reduce the need to move stock and equipment to and from the market each day.

Smarter travel grants for employees to use on more sustainable transport, such as cycling.

Electric vehicle charging points in private estates, for both businesses and residents.

The projects will be in various locations across the borough, including Chrisp Street and Whitechapel Road.

Councillor Rachel Blake, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Planning, Tackling Poverty and Air Quality, said: “Last year, Tower Hamlets became one of the first councils in the UK to declare a climate emergency. Our most deprived neighbourhoods are some of the most polluted and so we need everyone in Tower Hamlets to help us take action, and this funding boost will help us to provide tangible ways that local businesses can reduce vehicle emissions. This is just the latest in a number of local initiatives we’re running to improve air quality and tackle climate change.”

Tower Hamlets has over 2,000 independent high street businesses employing fewer than 10 people, as well as 1,200 street market traders. It can be hard for smaller businesses and traders to fund big investments. One example is buying new vehicles meaning many are using older transit vans, which are usually more polluting, to transport their goods.

By introducing more BLENs in Tower Hamlets, the council aims to help local businesses and market traders to reduce their impact on local air quality.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Our dirty air is a national health crisis that contributes to thousands of premature deaths ever year. While bold action such as our Ultra Low Emission Zone is starting to make a difference in London, we want to ensure there is help for businesses and local communities who want to do the right thing and clean up the air in their neighbourhood.”