Opinion: I will continue to lobby for greener air

PUBLISHED: 08:30 24 August 2019

City & East London Assembly member Unmesh Desai attended Royal Wharf Residents' Association meeting.

City & East London Assembly member Unmesh Desai attended Royal Wharf Residents' Association meeting.


I was part of the panel at the 200-strong residents’ meeting convened by Royal Wharf Residents’ Association- one of the best organised I have been to in all my years in Newham politics.

The meeting was held for residents to express their concerns to locally elected representatives over controversial planning proposals for a new lorry park next to the North Woolwich Road in Silvertown.

The land is designated for strategic industrial use, but this was originally officiated at a time when no housing developments had been built or proposed for the area. There is now a close-knit local community in place with a pressing need for supportive infrastructure, rather than the imposition of more large-scale industrial projects.

Over the course of the meeting, a significant volume of concerns were expressed about the effect of the development on local air quality and the impact of this on nearby schools.

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In April, Newham Council followed City Hall in declaring a climate emergency. Giving a green light to the scheme could undo the valuable work being undertaken to tackle poor air quality, which contributes towards the premature deaths of nearly 10,000 Londoners each year.

During my speech, I reaffirmed my support for the campaign opposing the development on environmental grounds and outlined the role that the Greater London Authority could play in this matter, after the scheme is initially scrutinised by Newham's Planning Committee.

On a different matter, I was horrified to hear of the attack on a local police officer in Leyton.

Thankfully, he is now at home recovering from his injuries, but it reminds us of the dangers our frontline officers regularly face. As Ken Marsh of the Police Federation aptly put it, our officers expect to go home at the end of a shift, not to hospital.

Finally, it was a pleasure to once again attend the "Under the Stars" event in Central Park.

As always, the performance of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the fireworks finale were the highlights of the show. This is a vital local initiative.

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