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UK’s air pollution reprieve does not wipe out need for action

July 13, 2011 1:04 PM

It has been revealed that the European Commission has wiped clean the slate on London's bad air record from January 2005 (when European standards came into force) until now, and no EU action will be taken over the past 6 years of non-respect.

The 'deadline extension' for compliance with limits of airborne particles (called PM10) was granted provisionally in March on condition that Mayor Boris Johnson and Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman put in place a short-term emergency action plan. The European Commission has now deemed that they have met this requirement, a fact only made public through a Freedom of Information request by the NGO Clean Air in London.

London Liberal Democrat MEP Sarah Ludford, a long time campaigner for cleaner air in the capital and a founder supporter of campaign group Clean Air in London, said:

"This decision means that the UK is absolved of its past sins and 6 years of inaction on London's terrible air pollution. It's like the UK's bad air 'criminal record' is being wiped clean, and the prospect of millions in fines postponed."

"But from now on there is no reprieve. London has no choice but to meet the EU's strict air quality standards for this dangerous pollution that causes asthma, heart disease, lung cancer and premature death."

"For the sake of Londoners' health, there can be no more excuses and delays. The government needs to take decisive action for clean air meeting EU standards, as pledged in the coalition agreement at LibDem behest."

"Glue-spraying on roads to stick the dust down and tree-planting are experimental at best, sticking plaster at worst. Radical action is needed to retrofit and scrap polluting vehicles and ban the oldest, dirtiest vehicles from entering central London by introduction of a central Clean Air Zone."

ENDS