Ice cream vans banned by London councils over environmental concerns

Abby Young-Powell
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Ice cream vans banned by London councils over environmental concerns

Ice cream vans are being banned from parts of London because they pump out “harmful” chemicals that damage people’s health and are toxic for the environment, strict new rules say.

The vehicles, most of which run on diesel and black carbon, must keep their engines running even while stationary so that on-board freezers work and ice creams do not melt.

But under the new rules, which come into effect today, Camden council will put up “no ice cream trading” signs and hand out fines for anyone caught selling the sweet snack.

Westminster council, which suffers from the worst air pollution in the country, has also recently been working to deter vehicles from running an engine when a vehicle has stopped, particularly around schools.

The council wants to get ice cream vans, whose engines run for long periods of time, hooked up to alternative supply sources.

Scientists warn the black carbon released by ice cream vans can stunt the growth of children’s lungs and trigger asthma attacks.

The issue has received increased attention in recent months, after the family of a nine-year-old girl who suffered from asthma and who died “from air pollution” launched a campaign and a call for a fresh inquest into her death.

Caroline Russell, Green Party London Assembly member, told the Evening Standard the crackdown on ice cream vans that “no one wants to be the fun police or see people lose their businesses".

"But people don’t want a side order of asthma with their ice cream. This is a serious health issue,” she said.

However summer sunbathers with a sweet tooth need not despair just yet.

A number of councils are looking at installing electricity power points in parks, so that ice cream vans would in future be able to stay parked in one place and power their freezers in an environmentally friendly way, with their engines switched off.

Highbury Fields already has one such station and Richmond and Tower Hamlets have said they are also considering getting them.

In the meantime, Russell says the “roaming vans” that trade in different streets every day, and which many Brits will have grown up with, will likely disappear over the next few years.