Effect of Wightman Road Filtering on Haringey Air Quality


Haringey has long been declared an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) because of pollutants such as Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2). Councils with AQMAs are required to monitor pollution levels, and produce action plans to tackle the causes. The following table uses Haringey Council’s website data (see Appendix), and shows the percentage change in NO2 levels at various monitoring sites between 2015 and 2016 (some recently closed or newly opened sites are not listed since comparison between years is not possible).


Figures in green indicate decreased pollution, figures in red indicate an increase, compared to the previous year. Although N02 dispersion is a complex phenomenon and the monitoring equipment itself is not 100% reliable, the year-on-year monthly figures provide evidence that filtering Wightman Road, after the initial disruption, actually had a widespread overall positive effect on pollution:
  • The Wightman Road closures initially caused disruption and traffic congestion in April so one would expect higher pollution, and this is evidenced e.g. by the 35% increase in April 2016 compared to April 2015 at site HR27 (Green Lanes). The disruption can be attributed to factors such as initial signage issues which the Council later corrected, or traffic light phases no longer matching the flow at key junctions. Also as above, most traffic is through-traffic, and most drivers are not local, so would rely entirely on signage to be aware of the new road layout (the Council obviously did consult and leaflet the local community about the changes, but most through-traffic would not have been aware of that). 
  • Congestion improved slowly but significantly through May and June, so one would expect the increased pollution also to subside, again this is evidenced by the fact that the June column in the above table is highlighted mostly in yellow rather than the red seen in previous months. The improvement took many weeks, again partly because so much traffic is non-local, but also because of other major changes in surrounding transport network at this time - for example, the extensive roadworks at Finsbury Park & Stroud Green Road affected bus and other journeys along Seven Sisters Road, and the closure of the GOBLIN (Gospel Oak – Barking line) would have put significant additional pressure on both public and private transport using Seven Sisters Road and other east-west routes. 
  • The SDG consultants calculated an 8% “evaporation” of traffic between March and June, but the pollution evidence in August, when most sites are highlighted green to indicate reduced pollution compared to 2015, suggests that the “evaporation” process was still continuing during the summer. There may be other causes of the reduced pollution but the fact that by now it is now much more attractive to make journeys by cycling or walking or public transport, is highly likely to be one of them. 
  • The bridge re-opened and the Wightman Road barriers were lifted in early September however the reduced pollution relative to 2015 actually continues into October/November. Again, as so much traffic is non-local and took several months to switch to alternative routes or transport modes, it is not surprising to see it take a few more months before everyone realises the rat-run is now open again. 
  • However by December it seems the traffic is just as bad if not worse than was at the beginning of the year, and pollution actually now worse relative to December 2015.


As stated above NO2 pollution is a complex phenomenon and we have to be cautious trying to draw definitive conclusions, however there does seem to be strong evidence in favour of the assertion that filtering Wightman Road, after an initial disruptive period of adjustment to surrounding traffic flows, within a few months actually had an overall beneficial effect on pollution levels across a much wider area; and no evidence at all for the idea that the many other benefits of filtering Wightman were only bought at the expense of making pollution worse elsewhere.
In fact if filtering Wightman had originally been a Council initiative as part of its Air Quality Management Plan, we think they would now be shouting the results from the rooftops!
We are therefore urging the Council to continue developing the Wightman Filtering package of options developed by the Transport Study, rather than its currently preferred solution of “Minor Improvements”, which is not expected to have a significant effect on the traffic and pollution issues which prompted the Transport Study in the first place.

Appendix: Haringey pollution data

The following tables show the actual pollution levels at each of Haringey’s monitoring locations. The EU and UK target levels for NO2 are 40mg/m3, so levels below this are highlighted in green and levels above in gradually darker shades of red:

2015 figures taken from p27 of Haringey Council website here, 2016 figures taken from p26 of Haringey Council website here.

61% of Harringay Ladder Households Support Filtering Wightman Road

Hello Living Wightman Supporters!

We’d like to thank everyone who completed the council’s online survey to show support for filtering Wightman Road. The council's consultants' report of the full results has been posted on HarringayOnline here and show that, overall, a 50.3% 
majority of respondents supported filtering Wightman Road (388/771 responses):

On the Ladder itself, a clear majority of 61% of households support filtering Wightman Road (279/456 responses):

The participation rate in the rest of the Study Area (i.e. the Gardens, St Anns and Hermitage areas, to the east of Green Lanes) was much lower, and those who did participate showed only 12% support for filtering Wightman (17/138 responses):

Outside the Study Area (i.e. households in the rest of Haringey, or in neighbouring boroughs), there was a majority of 52% in favour of filtering (92/177):

So a huge thanks to everyone who helped by distributing leaflets, campaigning on social media, spreading the word to friends and neighbours and of course by completing the survey!

Unfortunately the campaign is not over, as we understand the council currently proposes to ignore the majority view. Instead, the council plans to further develop some of the options in the "Minor Improvements" package, comprising in the short term a trial of reversing the one-way direction of Warham Road, and investigating the feasibility of moving parking off Wightman Road pavements and onto the road.

Some of the "Minor Improvements" options are desirable, but even taken together they would not solve the fundamental problem of excessive traffic - over 114,000 vehicle journeys per week (well over 1,000 vehicles per hour for most of the day), which is higher than on Turnpike Lane and several other local A-roads. Wightman Road would remain fully accessible to through traffic, and since Wightman Road has far fewer interruptions than Green Lanes, through traffic will continue to use Wightman, plus a Ladder “rung”, as a rat-run.

And so the campaign continues!