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Odds on dying double in East End during heatwave, scientists warn

PUBLISHED: 18:54 31 March 2014 | UPDATED: 15:58 01 April 2014

Saima Begum, then 8, helps launch East End's tree planting 'rescue' operation in 2010

Saima Begum, then 8, helps launch East End's tree planting 'rescue' operation in 2010

Carmen Valino

The chances of dying in a heatwave are more than double in London’s East End, shock research reveals.

Tower Hamlets councillors Joshua Peck and Anne Jackson begin East End's tree planting in 2010Tower Hamlets councillors Joshua Peck and Anne Jackson begin East End's tree planting in 2010

Rising summer temperatures are predicted to aggravate the ‘urban heat island’ effect which keeps most built up areas 3-4 degrees warmer than country areas, rising as much as 11C in heatwaves.

The odds of fatality from heart or lung illness goes up by 10 per cent for every degree rise in temperature, scientists at Imperial College London warn.

That means an 11-degree rise would increase the chance of dying by 110 per cent, the London Assembly has been told.

Most vulnerable areas are Tower Hamlets and neighbouring Hackney, where the odds are more than double on very hot days, the study reveals.

The findings are included in research by Assembly Green member Jenny Jones into the number of trees being chopped down over the past four years.

“Several authorities are going backwards, chopping down more trees than they’re planting,” she said.

“This is a time we should be preserving and building up our stock of trees to help combat impacts of heatwaves.”

The East End had fewer trees in the streets than any other part of London in 2010, just 4,000, which left Tower Hamlets at the bottom of the league table. It compared to 9,500 in neighbouring Hackney and 17,600 in Newham.

Many street trees in London had been felled unnecessarily back then, Assembly members recalled. A £4 million programme was started, aimed at planting another 10,000 in priority areas like the East End.

East London is now doing better. More than 800 have been planted by Tower Hamlets council since 2010, with only 243 being chopped down.

Hackney, meanwhile, lost 364, but says it has planted 1,561, gaining 1,197. Newham planted 1,172 and axed just 800.

Redbridge was top of the tree, having planted 3,221 since 2010, while losing 2,918.


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