Clean air for SE23 group

Who wants to improve air quality in SE23?

There are many ways to improve the air around the A205, and beyond. Creating green spaces, planting hedges & trees along our roads, and managing traffic will really improve where we live. So let’s put the Forest back into Forest Hill!

There is already Council and Mayor of London money available to do this. Forming a lobby group will help our community direct the resources to where we want them.

We can make SE23 a safer, healthier, greener & lovelier place to be.

If you want to start a group and get involved reply here.



Count me in Alice. More trees needed in SE23 for sure (especially along the South Circular).

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Count me in too.

The main cause of “bad” air is by the FH A205 junction. See below 2003 air quality map illustrating nitrogen dioxide levels:

(Particulates and other emission-related compounds are not accounted for, but would likely provide a similar result.)

To make the biggest improvement to the air quality in forest hill would be to improve clockwise traffic flow through the junction, i.e. up the hill. The layout of the junction and nearby bus stops reduce the flow of traffic, thus there are multiple hill starts for vehicles attempting to pass through the junction thereby increasing pollution. The queues are bad enough to encourage short-cuts through residential streets that increase pollution in redisdential areas.

It’s TFL controlled so the borough is responsible for neither its design nor upkeep.

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Interested in supporting the cause to improve air quality in our area. How ironic that just above this thread there’s a discussion re the selling and subsequent fencing-off of previously open green space which is home to several well-established trees at the bottom of duncombe hill. We need to protect our existing trees in addition to planting more new trees, especially along out busiest roads!


There is quite a bit of discussion about this going on, although perhaps more focused on noise than air:

Great to hear so much support for this. I’m going to see how many people respond by next week and set up a pub meeting to discuss the issues and solutions. We’ll need people who can help with social media, PR and fundraising, as well as horticultural experts and designers and also general enthusiasts for the cause. Tell your friends and post it to other groups if you can.



This the key issue - preventing or discouraging commuter traffic going through residential streets every day.

I live in Drakes Court on Devonshire Road. We are fortunate to have a large amount of communual space, which is sadly completely under utilised and it has no care, time or money spent on it. I have been asking Lewisham Homes to help me do something about it with no joy at all. Would love something to happen to it.

count me in

Hi Alice (and others).

Just to let you know about a couple of existing schemes:

Clean air. A group has recently started meeting at Crofton Park library, including an ‘action group’ on addressing pollution and air quality. We’re in touch, and helping campaign with, Catford resident Rosamund Kissi-Debrah, whose daughter Ella tragically died of asthma. At the moment the group is focusing on Crofton Park and Brockley, but it makes complete sense for any local campaign groups to be aware of each other, not least so we can coordinate action days, campaign materials etc etc. We aim to have a dedicated website up and running soon, but in the meantime, although I don’t use Facebook personally, I think you can contact the coordinator, Zaria, via an ‘event’ here: .

Street Trees: Street Trees for Living work with Lewisham Council to organise the planting of new street trees, and the maintenance of existing ones. We’re always looking for new people to get involved. NB: Although we originally started in Brockley, the initiative now covers most of the Borough of Lewisham.

Hope you find these helpful, and good luck!


Hi Ricky,

That’s fantastic to know that there is already a group set up. Are you interested in expanding and covering forest hill as well? I’ll get in touch with Zara and perhaps we could start a forest hill/ catford branch of the same group? It makes sense for catford and forest hill to link together as we have the same mega problem of the 205.

I think forest hillites should meet up and see where we fit into this picture. Meeting up in person makes discussion so much easier (I’m pretty rubbish at social media).


Thanks to everyone who responded. I’m on a bit of a fact finding mission this week and will get back to you to arrange a meeting soon.

The council money that is available is for “regreening” the Lewisham borough rather than prevention methods or re-routing traffic. Whilst the prevention side is very important and perhaps there are other funds available for that, I’m interested in focusing on capturing emissions at source so that it solves problems for everyone, including those living along the most polluted roads.

I’ve contacted Zahira and Street Trees for Living -do you run this Ricky?

Watch this space.

Hi Alice. No, I don’t run either of the groups: just a participant. If you’ve made contact with STfL I’m sure they’ll respond directly. Re the Crofton Park group: I checked and they do have a Facebook page - just not a public-facing one (ie one that non Facebook users can access). It’s called ‘Lewisham Protect Our Future’. I’ll contact them and ask them to change this status so that folks like me can still keep up with what’s happening, but as I mentioned we are aiming to launch a simple website in the near future. But I’m sure Zaria or Jo (the other organiser) will get back to you.

Re roads and traffic: another group to know about is Brockley Better Streets. Although they are small, and only focusing on the Brockley Conservation area, I’m sure they could give some good pointers to useful resources.

Keep in touch


Please can you elaborate on this? I don’t understand what “capturing emissions at source” means.

Hi Devonish Forester,

There’s evidence that hedges, green walls and even moss benches can reduce NO2 and particulates by 30-40%. If they are placed in the right place, at exhaust level and ideally between pedestrians and the road then that could stop 30-40% of emissions getting to our lungs.

Also look up Rob Mackenzie in Birmingham university.

The ULEZ is expected to reduce emissions by 30% around the south circular as people change their cars/companies change fleets so together that is a massive amount.

Combined with the really important prevention work you talked about and perhaps incentives (grants/loans to get an electric car anyone?) It could all add up to make a massive difference.

The reason why I want to focus on regreening first is because that is what the money is available for in March.

I think it’s important to look into spending the money effectively Perhaps kings could do some studies on how effective different regreening measures are.

Then we can campaign to get some hedges/green walls along the places in forest hill which are crunch points for pollution and other groups can campaign to get it in their area.

Think how nice it will make our neighbourhoods look too!

It’s not going to be straightforward as the southcircular is managed by TfL so local councillors can’t influence them much which is why creating a pressure group is so important.

Look forward to discussing more.



A meeting has been arranged for Thursday 21st Feb

See: Clean Air for Forest Hill - Meeting

Can I start by applauding the work you are doing on this issue. I think it is an important issue and if there are sensible things that can be done to improve air quality I fully support them.

My one concern would be the inappropriate placing of green barriers to form a pollution trap. The places that suffer most from pollution are those with high volume of diesel vehicles, narrow roads, tall buildings and trees forming a roof to the street. I’m particularly thinking about the stretch of London Road (South Circular) opposite Sainsburys and in front of Kings Garth.

The trees and bushes that protect residents in Kings Garth create a zone that traps pollution exactly where pedestrians are using the road.

I know it might be even harder to achieve, but I would welcome solutions that move the polluted air away from well used pedestrian routes such as high streets. I’m imagining giant fans in the pavement but realise that this would be unlikely to be feasible. But it would be good to look at solutions beyond planting. And most importantly ensuring that any planting does not make pollution worse for pedestrians.

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I think this sounds great, and something I would fully support.

I’ve no idea the key areas are, but my first thought would be around schools, primary to start off with, where it appears younger children are potentially more affected than adults. As children are in schools all day vs more temporary exposure eg waiting for a bus, walking down the road etc I would have thought this would have the most benefit also. (this is completely anecdotal).

I assume pavement space as well as views to the road for road crossing safety etc might be issues with fences, dependant on height.


Hi Michael,

I knew that tree canopies could enclose pollution but not the hedges -so that’s a really interesting point. I think that’s why it’s so important to get the interventions right and why they need to be evidence based. It would be great if you could join us either at the meeting on the 21st or when we form a group -locals who know about the environment at the end of their street will be invaluable.

My vision for having planters placed between the pedestrians and the road (ie outer edge of pavement) might in theory trap some of the pollutants before they swirl up into the bushes and trees? I think it would be worth getting experts on board to test set ups and give us guidelines- I’m a total novice so part of the groups mission would be to find out what really works. There are environmental engineers who specialise in doing this sort of thing so maybe part of the funding bid should go towards that?

All best