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World Environmental Health Day: London pollution unacceptably high

September 27, 2011 10:30 AM

London Liberal Democrat MEP Sarah Ludford is marking the UK's first ever World Environmental Health Day by calling on the Government to commit to making London's air cleaner very soon, not in 15 years' time.

An overwhelming majority - 40 of 43 - of the UK's 'air quality zones' failed in 2010 to meet binding EU targets which Britain signed up to on reducing levels of harmful Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) which can cause or worsen respiratory problems. The government had to submit cleanup proposals to the European Commission by this month to accompany applications for time extensions. According to these proposals, while zones elsewhere in the country will be compliant by 2015, reduction in air pollution levels may not occur in London before 2025. In another development, pressure group Client Earth is taking government to court for failure to consult on plans to reduce the high levels of dangerous airborne particles in the city.

Sarah Ludford, a long time campaigner for cleaner air in the capital, said:

"With the Olympics next year the eyes of the world are going to be on London, and it is embarrassing that our capital's air will still be dirty and not meet European standards. I would regret it if the European Commission decided that the UK government had not done enough to combat air pollution and launched court action, but I would hardly be surprised ."

"The choice of air pollution as the theme for the first-ever World Environmental Health Day shows just how important this issue is. It's unacceptable that London residents could be waiting fifteen years beyond the initial EU deadline for air quality compliance, and even dying young because of that."

Sarah is pictured with Lib Dem colleagues Lynne Featherstone, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green and minister for equalities, and London Assembly member Mike Tuffrey.

Notes to editors:
For more information on World Environmental Health Day see here:
The proposals to reduce NO2 levels that were submitted to the Commission this month can be seen here:
More details of Client Earth's work and the court case against the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs can be found here:
EU air quality policy information and the NO2 consultation can be found here: