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Ethnicity and multiple deprivation

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Salwinder Gill (below) has lived in Southall for most of his life, and has campaigned alongside others in the local community on a wide range of issues relating to race, employment, trade unionism and pollution.

As well as the effects of noise and pollution from Heathrow Airport, the people of Southall in west London face the spectre of the so-called ‘gasworks’ development. The National Grid plan to build 3,750 homes, a school, a medical centre and other amenities. While on the surface this sounds like a positive regeneration project, local residents and councillors have been fighting the plans. They have serious concerns about added traffic to what is already one of the most congested parts of the country and the health risks associated with building on what is polluted land.

According to the NGO Capacity Global, environmental injustice is not just about social and economic exclusion. They believe that there are issues specific to ethnicity in relation to pollution. According to their research, deprived areas in England contain four times as many people from ethnic minority backgrounds and ” there are links between ethnicity and environment  in regards to the siting of environmental hazard sites”.

An Equality Impact Assessment (EqIA) is a process that is meant to ensure that a policy or scheme does not discriminate against already disadvantaged groups. While it is sometimes used by the Greater London Authority (for example, as part of developing the London Low Emission Zone) it is not commonly undertaken across UK policy.

Greater use of EqIAs could protect vulnerable communities from becoming further disadvantaged.