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Engaging the community in improving local air quality

cleaner air champions celebrating in London

Our cleaner air champions celebrating in London

Cleaner Air Champions is an exciting project run by Sustrans with local volunteers to reduce local air pollution and improve the areas we live in. 

The pilot of the Clean Air Champions project was completed in 2013, funded and supported by the Greater London Authority (GLA) and the results were outstanding. The pilot was run in the London Boroughs of Hackney, Havering and Redbridge and supported the Mayor of London’s work to manage and improve air quality.
Now the pilot is complete we've moved into Islington and are keen to hear from other boroughs. Are you a London Borough lead and would like to discuss Cleaner Air Champions work in your area?  
For more information about the air pollution problem in London visit: and
Interested in finding out more about enagaging the community in improving local air quality? Contact us on [email protected] or 0207 017 2356.

How did the pilot project get on?

The project was able to recruit, train and support 21 cleaner air champions across the three boroughs who acted at a local level to raise awareness about air quality and promoted positive actions people can take to improve their local air quality.

 We’re proud to say that across the project:
• 21 cleaner air champions were recruited
• 51 activities were carried out by cleaner air champions
• 205 hours of volunteer time were accrued
• our cleaner air champions reached 1,743 beneficiaries
• we made significant links with other community groups, schools and organisations.
In Hackney our cleaner air champions:
• ran an anti-idling campaign around Hoxton Square
• arranged Play Out days on Roding Road
• arranged a Cycle Showcase Day at London Fields
• arranged a Cargo Bike Workshops and events and
• arranged a Parent Training scheme.
In Havering our cleaner air champions:
• set up local walks with Thames Chase Community Forest
• led local cycle rides
• undertook a school air monitoring project with Upminster Junior School
• attended local events to promote cycling and walking and raise awareness of air quality.
In Redbridge our cleaner air champions:
• attended local events to promote cycling and walking and raise awareness of air quality - including Music at Wanstead Park and Fairlop Fair
• campaigned locally to raise awareness of local air quality issues
• based their activities around providing information and advice totalling a total of 45 hours volunteer time.
Meet Sharon, one of our cleaner air champions
Sharon, Hackney, heard about this project from a local newsletter and she got in contact with us looking to take action on the problem of idling around Hoxton Square, where she is a resident. Sharon had noticed that a number of the restaurants and businesses around the square had regular delivery drivers leaving their engines running and even falling asleep for several hours with the engine still on.
As a cleaner air champion Sharon has engaged with the local council, school and businesses taking forward a number of initiatives to specifically combat this issue of idling around the square. Here's her top achievements:
  • engaged with the Borough Officer from London Borough of Hackney as part of their Zero Emissions Network initiative to get several anti-idling signs put up around the square and spoke to the parking enforcement officers to ask them to point them out to people.
  • designed an information leaflet highlighting the issues associated with idling, as well as air fresheners to give out as a friendly reminder to those she came across who were idling and also to give out to the local businesses.
  • in conjunction with the local school, a class of pupils wrote letters and posters on the issue.  This class then delivered their letters along with a pack of information of easy steps to help improve local air quality to all the restaurant and business owners around the square. The owners and managers responded positively by promising to speak to their delivery drivers and also to display the posters on their premises.
By providing an integrated approach with all users of the square Sharon has managed to bring together a range of people to become aware of the issue and take the first steps to make a change.