By Arun Khagram, Head of Consulting

From today's perspective, on the eve of Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) launch, it seems absurd that diesel was recently promoted by central government as the more environmentally sustainable liquid fuel. In 2001 Westminster introduced a sliding scale for Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) making it cheaper to buy a car with lower CO2 emissions. Diesel cars, which produce lower levels of CO2 than petrol cars, were in effect promoted through financial incentives. Problem is, diesel produces four times more NO2 and 22 times more particulate matter than petrol. In other words, diesel is better for climate change, but far worse for your lungs.

ULEZ sign

The Ultra Low Emission Zone: a key achievement of the air quality narrative

In 2008 climate change fell out of fashion. Many of us were so focused on the global financial crisis that we couldn't address the looming amorphous environmental catastrophe, which always seemed just over the horizon. Although an extremely important issue, I always thought that climate change was a difficult sell. Why not appeal to peoples' desire for health, cleanliness, self-preservation, self-interest? By focusing on air pollution, we can address both climate change and the need to appeal to our short-term self-interests.

Today we are living in the age of air pollution. An Ultra Low Emission Zone covering the entirety of Greater London, politically unthinkable a decade ago, is now broadly accepted by Londoners. ULEZ will strictly regulate both diesel and petrol emissions through punitive financial measures. The acceptability of the ULEZ is partly due to the herculean task of engaging with people from all walks of life to spread awareness about air pollution, such as MP Smarter Travel's nitrogen dioxide testing in schools, or our promotion to cargo bikes for business deliveries. This narrative focus on air quality has perhaps come at the expense of emphasising climate change. However, this has been a pragmatic approach that will result in cleaner air for Londoners and contribute to a slightly cooler planet. 

Let us know your thoughts on our Twitter @mpSmarterTravel 

Published in Blog

Yesterday TfL revealed details of its new fund that will enable business groups to reduce car traffic, improve air quality, and mitigate the impacts of freight and van traffic in urban areas.

The fund follows on from the ‘Deliveries Reduction Fund’ which allocated £237,000 to business groups, including Team London Bridge for its cargo bike preferred suppliers scheme, which is currently being delivered by MP Smarter Travel.


The new fund at glance

  • Up to £50,000 from TfL per project, to be match-funded by the applicant or a sponsor
  • Open to Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and partnerships
  • Funding available to projects that either a) reduce vehicle trips and improve air quality, or b) evaluate the effectiveness of sustainable transport solutions to share best practice
  • Quantifiable outcomes are key to successful application
  • There is no fixed funding budget or cap on the number of successful applications. Funding will be awarded to applications that score sufficiently high across all elements of the assessment criteria.
  • Deadline for submissions is 19 March 2019

In addition to our current Team London Bridge cargo bike project, MP Smarter Travel supported Better Bankside’s Borough Market consolidation centre, and our staff have produced Delivery and Servicing Plans (DPS) for high-profile London businesses as part of Cross River Partnership’s ‘Clean Air Better Business’ programme.   

How we can help you secure funding

Our consultants are available to support business groups with applications to the Healthy Streets for Business fund. Here is how we can help:

  • Support with developing creative and feasible project concepts
  • Sharing knowledge of sustainable transport measures and best practice
  • Baseline data capture, a key element of your application as project outcomes will need to be quantified
  • Linking your business group with other business groups who may wish to joint bid
  • A named project delivery partner with an excellent track record and project portfolio

Deliveries reduction project idea toolkit

MP Smarter Travel has developed a comprehensive summary of all known behaviour change measures to reduce the impact of deliveries and freight at the Business Improvement District level. To download this free resource, click here.

If you would like to discuss your options for applying to the Healthy Streets Fund for Business, contact Arun Khagram on 0207 960 2553 or

Published in Blog

Air quality monitoring campaign to support healthy school streets

Following on from the Mayor’s School Air Quality Audits, LB Brent decided to extend the programme to deliver air quality engagement and monitoring at most of their schools.


MP Smarter Travel reviewed air quality, engagement and deprivation to prioritise schools for participation in the programme. 66 schools were chosen. We are currently engaging with schools to book in and deliver air quality assemblies, followed by detailed NO2 monitoring which will show the distribution of air pollution across school grounds, both indoors and outdoors. The engagement and air quality findings will enable LB Brent to prioritise schools for measures such as green screens and healthy school streets.

Brent Breathe Clean

 If you would like support with air quality engagement or air quality monitoring, feel free to get in touch.

Published in Case studies

Full-service event hosting to promote a sustainability scheme                                                     

MP Smarter Travel has been delivering the Lewisham School Travel Planning programme since 2011. Lewisham’s air quality team developed an air quality app and requested that MP Smarter Travel facilitate an event to launch the app for schools. We worked with the council to design the event; and secured speakers and activities, identified a suitable venue, and liaised with schools to ensure attendance at the event.

The event featured a keynote speech from the Mayor of Lewisham, and received very positive feedback from schools and the client

If you would like support with managing and hosting sustainability events, feel free to get in touch.

Lewisham event


Published in Case studies

Spreading awareness about air quality amongst the general public              

Clean Air Day is the UK’s largest air pollution campaign. In 2018, Brent Council asked MP Smarter Travel to set up an information kiosk about air quality in London, to discuss the issue with members of the public, school children and council officers. We set up a kiosk containing information about the science of air pollution, its causes, and health impacts, and what Brent Council and the Greater London Authority are doing about it. We also spoke with people about actions that they themselves can take, including travelling sustainably using clean air routes, minimising engine idling, and using low energy appliances.

If you would like support with air quality engagement, feel free to get in touch.

Brent Clean Air Day cropped 4x6


Published in Case studies

MP Smarter Travel is currently delivering an exciting project with the London Borough of Brent to engage with schools on the subject of air quality, and to carry out air quality monitoring at 40 schools. This work builds upon the Mayor’s School Air Quality Audit programme, and seeks to teach children about the actions they and their families can take to minimise air pollution whilst collecting accurate data about NO2 concentrations.

We have been liaising with school administrators to schedule air quality assemblies. Our team of sustainability educational consultants have been delivering air quality assemblies to primary and secondary schools. As part of this project, we are working with students to set up diffusion tube monitoring, which will provide a detailed picture of the distribution of NO2 concentrations in school grounds both indoors and outdoors.

If you are looking for support with air quality education/engagement or air quality monitoring, feel free to get in touch.

Published in Blog

Delivering air quality education and awareness in schools                                      

Lambeth Council commissioned MP Smarter Travel to deliver an engaging and interactive air quality awareness programme at eight primary schools. The key objectives were to empower children to make decisions to reduce their exposure to air pollution, and to lower pollution around schools through travel behaviour change.

MP Smarter Travel delivered a series of six ‘Air Aware’ lessons based on the Clean Air 4 Schools Toolkit, and the children used the facts they learned to direct their own news report with assistance from a professional film maker. These films were used extensively to spread the ‘air aware’ message.

If you would like support with air quality education and awareness, or similar work with schools, feel free to get in touch.


Lambeth Air Aware




Published in Case studies

Our services

Air Quality
MP Smarter Travel is helping turn the air quality crisis into an opportunity for local people to come together as communities to make their neighbourhoods cleaner, healthier and more sustainable.
Behaviour Change
Transport programmes that focus on influencing behaviour often represent fantastic value for money. MP Smarter Travel has the resources and expertise to deliver behaviour change projects of practically any size.
Business Engagement
MP Smarter Travel staff have a strong track record in engaging with local businesses, understanding their operations, and securing successful participation in council and BID programmes.
Campaigns and Awareness
MP Smarter Travel has a large pool of enthusiastic and outgoing built environment specialists who can be quickly and effectively deployed to raise awareness for and support sustainability causes.
Community Engagement
Our model consisting of a core team of project managers and consultants, with access to a large pool of engagement specialists, means that we can deliver community engagement work to scale.
Data Collection and Research
We offer an independent research service, staffed by experienced consultants, analysts and statisticians who provide clear evidence-based answers to policy questions.
Development Control Travel Plans
MP Smarter Travel staff have a long history of finding out why people travel the way they do, understanding what measures can tip the balance, and implementing the right measures to maximise walking and cycling at a given site.
Education and Training
MP Smarter Travel delivers fun and creative sustainability lessons at local schools, and delivers training to a wide variety of audiences on local environmental, transport and health issues.
Public Consultation
MP Smarter Travel consists of a core of experienced project managers and a large pool of consultants who publicise, deliver and analyse large-scale public consultations on behalf of our clients.
School Travel Plans
The average walking time to a school in London is about 12 minutes. MP Smarter Travel has a long history of working with councils and schools to increase levels of walking, scootering and cycling to and from school.
We support transport and environmental consultancies in delivering their projects. Whether you are looking to identify sub-consultants as part of a bid, or you require our support immediately, give us a call.
Urban Freight and DSPs
MP Smarter Travel works on behalf of local authorities, Business Improvement Districts and individual businesses to develop and deliver Delivery and Servicing Plans (DSPs) and address the impacts of urban freight trips.

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