Air Quality Action – volunteers needed

 Air Quality action

Update 13/02/2018

Volunteers are urgently needed to join a series of local ‘Idling Action’ days, educating parents, carers and motorists of the dangers to air quality when leaving their car engines idling on the school run, outside shops, at level crossings or anywhere when parked for a minute or more.

Volunteers work with Council officers and local schools to engage with idling drivers and passers-by about the effects of idling cars on local air quality, particularly when parents drop their children off at school or pick them up or stop at level crossings . The volunteer teams invite drivers to join the campaign and switch off their engines when not moving. Volunteers will receive full training. At the same time, participating schools will receive presentations, games and activities to educate children on air quality issues.

The Kew Society in its response to Richmond Council’s draft Air Quality Action Plan raised the issue of turning off engines to reduce air pollution and we are pleased to see local action being taken. We encourage members to take part in the campaign.

Richmond Council in conjunction with Idling Action (see  are holding an action day around Manor Road and Holy Trinity School on Carrington Road. If anyone wishes to be involved, the session runs from 14.00 to 16.30  on Wednesday 21 February. Volunteers need to register with

Previous action days elsewhere in the country have shown that over 80% of drivers switch off when asked by the volunteers and most pledge to give up idling for good. The first local event was held in East Sheen on Wednesday 7th February 2018. It was well received; most people  were glad to see the volunteers, thought action was necessary, 94% switched off and pledged to try and remember to switch off in future. A high response rate to beat!

Over the next few months, events will be held in North Sheen and Hampton and we are suggesting to Richmond Council other venues in Kew which may be appropriate.

Update 07/12/2017

The Kew Society is very actively engaged in pressing for action to improve our air quality. We have commented on Richmond Council’s draft action plan to improve air quality in the Borough and on the London Mayor’s proposals for London as a whole. You can see our responses on on these consultations here and here. We will also be commenting later this month on the London Borough of Hounslow’s draft action plan on air quality. This is in addition to the work we have been doing with the Richmond Heathrow Campaign to oppose the expansion of Heathrow. Expansion would have adverse impacts on air quality and we have yet to see credible proposals to address this.

Professor Roger Mason provided an update on air quality at our event, which was open to members and non-members alike, on 6 December. You can see his slides here.

Roger updated us on the latest assessments of air quality in Kew, on work he has been doing with Richmond Council on air quality and our schools, and on the comments we are making on the action proposed by Richmond Council, Hounslow Council and the London Mayor.

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Event Information:

  • Wed
    5:30 pmRoyal Botanic Gardens, Kew

    Kew Society members were offered a rare opportunity to visit the Economic Botany Collection at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. This is the oldest and perhaps the most fascinating of Kew's science collections containing over 100,000 items. The collection began in 1847.

    The tour was lead by Mark Nesbitt, who is senior Ethobotanist and Curator at RGB Kew and he delved into Kew's history and current science research via a unique collections of rubber, lacebark, Chinese medicines and other useful plants. The term Economic Botany essentially means 'useful plants'.


    Jamaica lace plant. George II once had a suit made using this 'imitation' lace.

    The bark simply peals back to expose this extraordinary lace.

    Mark has been working with groups to help reintroduce this plant for commercial purposes.

    The collection houses many & varied Chinese medicines.

    These Alpine plants from New Zealand were labelled 'Vegetable Sheep' and caused a sensation in Victorian London.

    Maori cloak, though to be ceremonial. Made from an Alpine plant that mimics leather.

    Mark has been working with ethnic groups using this very valuable cloak.

    Wild rubber hot water bottle.


    The tour was very generously free and we are exceedingly grateful to Mark Nesbitt for making this most generous offer to our members.

    Click here for Mark's own page detailing his research