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Lib Dems demand action on air pollution

April 12, 2011 9:58 PM

The Mayor of London has been given £ 5 million by the Department for Transport for emergency action to reduce air pollution in London, as the city fails to meet European air quality standards.

The European Commission recently held off from taking the UK to court for failure to comply with legal standards on levels of health-damaging particles (PM10) in London' s air. These come particularly from diesel and cause a host of health problems and contribute significantly to an estimated 4300 premature deaths a year in London. But this reprieve is only on condition that the Mayor and the government put together an action plan by June to tackle the problem.

Liberal Democrat MEP Sarah Ludford has raised the matter with the EU EnvironmentCommissioner asking whether the measures demanded will deal with the long-term problem . EU clean air law states that EU countries need to make sure that dangerous PM10 pollution does not go over a certain level more than 35 days per calendar year. Already this year London has had 29 such days.
Liberal Democrats propose concrete and realistic measures such as retrofitting the most polluting vehicles with filters; speeding up the modernising of London's bus and taxi fleet; extension of the boiler scrappage scheme for replacement of old polluting boilers; and making central London a Clean Air Zone in which old diesel engines would be banned.

At the same time as the Coalition Government is trying to reduce emissions and airborne particulates, and trying to introduce a Clean-Air strategy, H&F's Tory adminstration has renamed its transport policy "The Driver's Charter" (10 Measures to improve the experience of drivers in our Borough). With our council's unambitious target of increasing the proportion of journeys made by cycle from 4% of the total to 5% within 20 years, it would seem that Londoners' chances of breathing freely before 2031 depend on our European neighbours