Putney clean air campaigners have hailed a proposed ultra low emission zone as a great idea and want it to be installed as soon as possible.

Wandsworth Times: Putney High Street

Boris Johnson and Transport for London (TfL) have launched a public consultation on proposals to introduce the world’s first ultra low emission zone in the capital by September 2020.

The aim is to significantly improve air quality and the health of Londoners after it was revealed 4,300 people a year in London are dying prematurely as a result of air pollution.

In 2012, pollution in Putney was described as 'a national disgrace' after it emerged levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) exceeded EU regulations 18 times in the first three days of 2012 - more than is permitted for the whole year.

Just days into 2014, pollution levels again exceeded the yearly nitrogen dioxide quota in Putney.

However, results from June to December last year did show a reduction in the number of times nitrogen dioxide levels on Putney High Street exceeded the EU hourly target.

Jonathan Callaway, deputy chairman of the Putney Society, which lead a campaign to improve air quality, said: "We think the idea is extremely good. We think it should, however, be brought in sooner and consider a wider area.

"The direction of travel is right. I think the idea is great but I don’t see why we should wait until 2020 - the damage is being done every day."

The society held a public meeting with experts on Thursday, October 23, and Mr Callaway added: "It was pretty good. We had more than 50 people there. Maybe there is more being don’t than we realise. It was a very positive meeting."

Diesel emissions take much of the blame for high concentrations of NO2 in recent years, with London suffering the biggest cluster of pollutant limit breaches in the UK.

Wandsworth Council has worked to alleviate the pollution problem by including an air quality monitoring station in Putney High Street, carrying out traffic counts and lobbying TfL for new investment in buses, which were identified as a major contributor to emissions of NO2 in Putney High Street.

Earlier this year, the Wandsworth Guardian revealed more people were dying of lung diseases in Wandsworth than the national average and thousands remained undiagnosed with potentially fatal conditions according to health bosses.

The NHS identifies smoking as the main cause of respiratory diseases, but links have recently been made to the effects of pollution.