Construction crane in London

Health effects of air pollution

Reducing air pollution from construction sites

We’re working with Lambeth and Southwark councils to make sure construction sites are compliant with air quality regulations, helping to address a major source of air pollution and improve health.

Key info:

What are we doing together? 

Construction pollutes the air in urban areas, damaging people’s health. Research published in 2019 found that construction is responsible for significant proportions of the polluting emissions in London that are most harmful to health, including 30% of particulate matter (PM10) emissions, 8% of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and 4% of nitrogen oxides (NOX).

Our previous work with CLEC found people who work in the construction sector are concerned about air pollution. This partnership is implementing some of the recommendations from that work and will support councils to make sure the construction industry operates as cleanly as possible, reducing air pollution from this source.

Though air pollution policies and regulations do exist, local authorities often don’t have the capacity to guarantee all construction sites are compliant. To address this, we’re funding a construction compliance officer in Lambeth (Southwark have secured funding for their own officer) and will provide support and guidance for both councils.

The officers’ responsibilities include reviewing dust management plans, checking for Non-Road Mobile Machinery (NRMM) compliance, and proactive responses to real-time data on air pollution emissions from construction sites. They will also review and enforce planning obligations and work with environmental health teams and planning officers.

Lambeth and Southwark councils will manage the compliance officers, CLEC will run a training programme, and Merton Council – which has proven expertise in this area – will provide ongoing support. The partnership will also appoint a community engagement organisation to provide advice, support, and training to: 

  • build residents’ confidence in sharing their views on construction-related issues in their community. This could be specific concerns about noise and dust or wider issues around gentrification and lack of access to affordable housing. 
  • enable councils and developers to listen to, hear and act on residents’ concerns. 

Aim of the partnership 

We’re funding this work because we want to find out if enhanced compliance by the construction industry will reduce air pollution and improve health. The project will gather evidence on key measures including: 

  • The number of actions taken by developers, based on engagement with the compliance officers, which will reduce air pollution. 
  • Levels of air pollution from construction sites, using monitors and tools provided by Merton Council and Arup. 

We hope local authorities will use this evidence to require developers to share responsibility for funding compliance officer posts long-term. Insights will be shared widely, with other local authorities, the Greater London Authority and the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), enabling this approach to be taken in other London boroughs and nationally. 

Connection to our strategy 

A priority for our Health effects of air pollution programme is to work with businesses to find equitable solutions to reducing emissions. The construction industry is a major source of air pollution in urban areas. The compliance officers will build relationships with developers in our boroughs, ensuring they are fully aware of and working within air pollution regulations. We hope a renewed focus on compliance from local authorities will improve air quality now and incentivise construction sites to reduce their emissions in the future.



Ben Pearce

Want to find out more about this project?

Contact Portfolio Manager Ben Pearce

Contact Ben