London Mayor Sadiq Khan raised concerns over the effects of government cuts on Lewisham’s air quality as he called pollution a “health crisis” in New Cross today.

Mr Khan visited New Cross Road to launch a new low-emission bus zone which runs from Camberwell to New Cross along Peckham High Street, covering 380 buses on 20 routes.

It was one of five new low-emission zones launched today, with seven already launched – including one from Lewisham to Catford along Lewisham High Street and Lewisham Road.

Only buses that meet the cleanest emission standards will operate within the new zones, which have been delivered through a combination of new and retrofitted vehicles.

Mr Khan said Lewisham residents benefit from the council’s investment in walking and cycling projects, such as the work to improve walking and cycling routes across Deptford and New Cross – but was concerned government cuts will mean councils “can’t do the things they want to do” in regards to air quality.

This comes after a Lewisham Council proposal to cut all non-statutory services for air pollution in 2020/2021 at a saving of £60,000, as a result of cuts in government funding.

The funding was previously used for projects including the Lewisham Air app and green screens – a wall of plants which absorb pollution like nitrogen dioxide.

“I am impressed by policies the council of Lewisham have taken for example working with schools to stop idling vehicles, make green screens and other policies being done to help waking and cycling,” he said.

“We need councils to recognise that this is a health crisis – what we need is action.

“I am really concerned that as a response of government cuts, councils can’t do the things that they want to do,” he continued.

“The reasons councils are having to make tough decisions is not because they want to but because they are being made to [by the government].

“We have got one arm tied behind our back, councils have one arm tied behind their back,” he said.

“The government needs to support our councils to do a better job and support City Hall to do a better job.”

City Hall’s plans for a £10 ‘T-charge’ – or toxicity charge – for older, polluting vehicles and the Ultra Low Emission Zone next April in central London will also have a positive impact on locals’ lungs, Mr Khan said, as many of those vehicles also drive though Lewisham.