The Cross River Partnership (CRP) are a non-profit organisation that has been delivering positive change for London’s residents, businesses, and visitors for over 25 years. They work to address sustainability challenges collaboratively in London and beyond. As a testbed for exciting projects in towns and cities, they share knowledge, evidence, and best practice for the people who live, work in, and visit these places [1].

All CRP projects are funded by the Mayor of London and the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs.

They are:

Experts in delivering positive change. They have worked across the public, private, voluntary and community sectors for over 25 years.

They are London’s largest partnership delivery organisation. Their partners range from Local Authorities and Business Improvement Districts to Landowners and Strategic Agencies.

All about empowering people to deliver innovative projects, that create great places. Their work transects themes such as placemaking, health and wellbeing, addressing inequalities, sustainability, air quality, freight, transport and active travel, energy, environment, culture, and lighting,

Forward thinkers, embracing collaboration for a sustainable future fit for all. Working with partners to shape London’s fabric and operation, supporting residents, businesses, and visitors to all thrive in the city.

CRP work collaboratively with public, private and community partners across central London and beyond. Partners Include:

  • Greater London Authority
  • Groundwork London
  • Network Rail
  • Port of London Authority
  • Transport for London

Clean Air Villages Project

Clean Air Villages 4 (CAV4) is a DEFRA funded project led by Westminster City Council in collaboration with 26 project partners to improve the air quality across different London ‘villages’, where both air pollution and population density levels are high. Partners for this project include Hammersmith and Fulham, Islington, Lambeth, and Lewisham.

The Project works with businesses, communities, and hospitals in “Clean Air Villages” to offer 1-2-1 support to reduce emissions from business-related deliveries and services, and from individual-led action. There is a focus on the dual benefits of improving air quality while also saving businesses time and money through more efficient operations.

One of the initiatives in the Clean Air Villages Project is the Electrifying Brixton push.

Brixton has long been recognised as an air pollution hotspot, with traffic, congestion, and old diesel vehicles contributing to high pollution levels.

Cross River Partnership worked with Zipcar, Lambeth Council and Brixton BID to launch this scheme as part of the CAV project. It aims to encourage businesses to switch to cleaner modes of transport for their deliveries and pickups, in turn helping reduce the levels of air pollution in the local area and promote long term positive change.

The CAV team promoted the van pictured above across Brixton, and engaged with over 200 businesses around Pop Brixton, Brixton Village Market, Electric Avenue and Brixton Station Road.

The Clean Air Villages Project is currently in its 4th iteration with the first being launched in 2018. At that point, there were 10 Clean Air Villages in London, with 5 supporting partners and now, in 2021, there are 26 villages with 25 partners.

How was this Achieved?

The Cross River Partnership had to think of ways to engage local areas and local businesses in their Clean Air Village initiative. When presenting their plans, they ensured that they

  • Raised awareness of options by assessing what projects would be most beneficial for the area or businesses needs
  • Discussed the benefits of projects but also the potential barriers
  • Facilitated change through trials, so that participants knew what they were signing up for
  • Understood that the plans may not work for every area and every business

For example, the CRP would ask a business wanting to switch to a more sustainable delivery method:

  • What is the volume of the product you would like to transport?
  • What is the size of the product you would like to transport?
  • How frequently do you currently deliver?
  • What are your maintenance costs?
  • Where will you store your vehicle?
  • Would you pay an ad hoc or annual rate, or use a voucher scheme?

When analysing the responses, they found that asking businesses if they would like to switch to sustainable methods, was often more of a behavioural challenge than a financial one. Encouraging a business to take the plunge and try a new method can often be difficult without a motive.

So, as part of the Clean Air Villages Project, free trials of low-emission delivery modes were offered to businesses as a tool for encouragement. It enabled the businesses to try the new technologies without any financial or time constraints, and without them having to worry about common challenges such as space, costs, and storage.

Using Data to Encourage Change

One solution that was identified as part of the CAV Project was the potential in transferring a businesses vehicle fleet to all-electric. To demonstrate that the change was viable, CRP worked with businesses who expressed an interest in switching their vehicles by providing them with a free Telematic Dongle to track their vehicle movements.

By monitoring and calculating elements such as mileage, speed, proximity to charging points, and time parked, helped to provide an understanding of which electric vehicle models on the market had a range most suitable for each business’s needs.

When all this data was collected and analysed, a report was created to highlight to each business whether there was an electric vehicle on the market that was appropriate for their needs.

Connecting People

Another way that the CAV Project helped to encourage businesses and communities to make air quality improvements was through connecting people. When speaking to businesses they found that one of the challenges businesses faced was finding local suppliers that were already making the switch to low-emission methods.

To combat this, CRP produced the online Clean Air Villages Directory that lists businesses that provide their services using either fully electric or ultra-low emission vehicles, or by cargo bikes or on foot.

The directory also lists suppliers who manufacture or lease ultra-low and zero-emission vehicles. It can be filtered by area or needs. Currently, there are 100 businesses listed in the directory. To be included in the directory businesses had to prove that they were using electric and low emission methods 80% of the time when delivering their services.

Additionally, a major part of the CAV Project has been knowledge sharing. The CRP provide many resources online aimed at helping businesses and communities across London to make positive changes and improve air quality. For example, they have produced resources that detail the considerations needed to switch to an electric vehicle, as well as case studies from businesses that have already made the switch. Overall, the Cross River Partnership is continually working hard to improve the air quality of London. The Clean Air Villages Project has been pioneering in encouraging and assisting local communities and businesses to make more sustainable choices.

[1] The Cross River Partnership (CRP)

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The Cross River Partnership (CRP) strive to make London a more sustainable and healthier place to live and work. This case study examines the CRP’s Clean Air Villages Project and the techniques they have used to encourage encouraging businesses and communities to switch to low-emission solutions.

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