Like much of London, Hampstead has significant air pollution problems. Tackling this is one of my and the local Conservatives’ top priorities in the area.
Sadly, there’s not a huge amount that can be done about the traffic that comes into Hampstead. We can try to create incentive programmes that encourage parents not to use cars for the school run. We can impose stricter limitations on developers when it comes to excavations. We can try to free the flow of the Finchley Road to prevent idling and rat-running. But sadly, not much is in the gift of local government.
What we can do is make the cars that are used in Hampstead as ecologically friendly as possible. If cars are electric or hybrid, they’ll pollute less and help make traffic less of a problem for those of us trying to breathe the local air. I wrote a couple of weeks ago about how electric vehicles are becoming more widespread.
According to the 2011 census, 55% of Hampstead Town households have access to a car. What Hampstead does not have, though, is a lot of garages, so everyone relies on on-street parking. This makes electric vehicle ownership very difficult, as Camden has an incredibly poor network of on-street electric vehicle charging points. According to Zap Map, Camden has just 34 in the whole borough, compared to 80 in Westminster. And none of Camden’s is high-powered.
Hampstead has some of the most environmentally-conscious residents in the country – and, yes, quite a lot of residents have the extra disposable income to pay a bit more to get an electric car. Time and time again, people tell me on the doorstep that they’d go electric if there were more on-street charging points available.
Fortunately, the Conservative government introduced a brilliant scheme called the On-street Residential Chargepoint Scheme in January 2017, under which local authorities like Camden can bid for funding to install electric vehicle charge points where (a) the infrastructure doesn’t already exist and (b) where residential properties don’t have garages. So it’s perfect for Hampstead.
Under the scheme, the national government funds up to 75% of the capital cost of the proposal, so for every pound Camden puts in, the government puts in three. Even with bespoke solutions – for example, concealing the charge points in existing lamp-posts so they don’t create further street clutter – it wouldn’t cost local councils more than a few hundred pounds per charge point once this subsidy is factored in.
So we could install hundreds of new charge points across Hampstead for maybe £100,000. Much of this could come from the Community Infrastructure Levy: funded by development projects. This would have a huge impact on air quality across the north of the borough, and really put Camden in the driver’s seat when it comes to this new technology.
I will be working closely with my Conservative colleagues to ensure this becomes a reality. To that end, I will be asking the following question of the relevant Camden Cabinet member in the council meeting next week:
How many public electric vehicle charging points are there in Camden, and how many vehicles (of all means of propulsion) are estimated to be resident in the borough? Of these, how many are provided for dual-use parking spaces, which can be used by electric and non-electric vehicles alike?
What has Camden done to deliver more electric vehicle charging points, how many additional electric vehicle charging points do all approved plans deliver, and what would be the distribution of those new charging points by ward?
For more about my campaign to reduce air pollution, click here.