Wanstead Climate Action recently protested about pollution levels in the area.

The well-organised event saw a horse called Rolant and two other fantastic horses parade along to Christchurch Green, where people protested about pollution.

The tranquility of the scene with the horses was in marked contrast to the other side of the fence, where a steady stream of cars ploughed along the high street, adjacent to the farmers market.

It really illustrated the problem: people don't want pollution but they don't want to give up their cars.

Thousands of people die each year due to pollution. The annual toxic nitrogen level at Redbridge Roundabout is more than 50 per cent above the national Air Quality Standard, according to Friends of the Earth.

The pandemic has offered a strange window on the whole situation. Initially, under lockdown, traffic was drastically cut - in the air and on the ground. Pollution reduced, people could breathe the air and see the stars.

Then lockdown was raised. People were encouraged to cycle and walk but stay off public transport and get in their cars.

Today, more people are walking and cycling but more are also driving. The fume belching lines of cars are becoming more prevalent.

Also, the idling vehicles, which produce the equivalent of 150 balloons full of harmful chemical for every minute they are sitting stationary (UK government, 2019) abound. Cars that idle in this way can be fined £80 in Redbridge.

Hopefully, as the pandemic passes, those driving cars who previously used public transport will return to that mode of travel.

Change has been happening, with schemes like the mini-Holland in Waltham Forest.

In Redbridge, things are moving in the same direction, with the Quieter Streets programme. There are five schemes being rolled out in Ilford and Barkingside over September and October. Schemes for Wanstead and Oakdale will follow shortly afterwards.

These schemes will enable everyone to move around more safely and breathe cleaner air.

There are already schemes coming into place in Wanstead to improve air quality, including, school streets, stopping cars polluting the area around schools at certain times of day.

The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), which cuts polluting vehicles, will come into effect in Wanstead next year.

Redbridge Council is also keen to promote electric cars, providing charging points, where requested.

There is also the partial pedestrianisation of High Street, Wanstead, on market days, cutting off some roads adjoining.

It would be good to see this pedestrianisation extended.

So things are happening to address the crisis but we need to speed up.

The pandemic offers a real opportunity to reset the indices for a more healthy and sustainable world in the future. There needs to be a new normal, which cannot be the same as the old. It should be a place, where we can all live more healthy, active lives because there is clean air and safer, quieter streets.