As the Government’s current policy to tackle the growing problem of air pollution is declared “unlawful” in another High Court ruling, Matthew Pencharz, former Deputy Mayor of London for Environment, has urged ministers to re-evaluate their construction practices in their efforts to clear the dirty urban air.
“The Government has now lost three cases at the High Court over its plans to improve air quality across the UK,” said Pencharz, current director of Off Grid Energy. “We are in breach of legal limits for Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), and action needs to be taken across the country to prevent more harmful air pollution and further embarrassment for ministers.”
Previously, just 28 local authorities in England were included in the new air quality plan, but this has since risen to 45 English and Welsh authorities which are now required to take action. While the focus is on transport related emissions as the greatest contributor to the UK’s poor air quality, Pencharz highlighted the immense benefits that cleaner construction practises could have to the quality of air.
“The Government continues to miss a trick in not taking action on emissions from temporary power generating systems and construction equipment,” he said. “In London, construction equipment is estimated to be responsible for 7% of NOx emissions, of which 25% is due to temporary power generators. There is no question that construction activity in densely populated areas should be addressed.”
London has brought forward reasonable regulation on Non Road Mobile Machinery (NRMM) to ensure that only the cleanest plant equipment is used on construction sites.
“The Government needs to show leadership by following the capital’s lead and having such regulations across areas of poor air quality. They need not be a burden on business but, on the contrary, lead to a triple win of lower emissions, lower cost and growth of a clean tech sector, which the UK is a world leader of.”
He went on to suggest an alternative technology for construction practices that comes in the form of battery storage. The offering from companies like Off Grid Energy was built to deliver affordable, high performance solutions while also reducing the amount of emissions by only burning fuel when it is at its most efficient.
“Battery storage technology has progressed so that modular hybrid power systems can easily be built. A battery and diesel generator can be used in tandem to create a hybrid system just as in a bus or car. In times of low load just the battery runs and in times of high load or when the battery needs charging, the generator is switched on.”
In times of low load, just the battery runs, while in times of high load or when the battery needs charging, the generator is switched on, saving up to £500 a week in fuel costs and 2.5 Tonnes of CO2.
“There is no question about it, implementing cleaner technology to construction sites is a triple win – healthier air, less CO2 and less cost,” he added.