London’s air quality ‘kicked into long grass’

London Assembly member criticises Mayor for ‘shifting responsibility’ for poor air quality following series of proposals for the capital announced yesterday

The Mayor of London’s proposals for tackling air quality in the capital are little more than a “wish list”, according to London Assembly member Murad Qureshi.

The Labour member said Mayor Boris Johnson had “shifted responsibility” for tackling poor air quality on to local authorities and the next mayor with a series of proposals that would not take effect until 2020.

Labour London Assembly member Murad Qureshi has criticised Mayor Boris Johnson's measures to tackle air quality problems in the capital

Labour London Assembly member Murad Qureshi has criticised Mayor Boris Johnson’s proposals to tackle air quality problems in the capital

“He has now kicked the issue into the long-grass so that someone else can deal with it,” Mr Qureshi said.

Mr Qureshi also questioned the Mayor’s claims that emissions of particulate matter and nitrogen oxides have been reduced by 15% and 20% respectively in the capital since 2008, as he said these estimates are based on computer modelling from exhaust pipes rather than on the air resident’s directly breath.

He said that London had “the worst gaseous air pollution of any capital city in Europe” and that poor air quality was responsible for more than 4,000 premature deaths in the city each year.

Clean Air in London (CAL) campaigner Simon Birkett, also criticised the pollution reduction figures, and said the Mayor had refused an environmental information request to substantiate the claims.

Mr Birkett said: “What matters for health and legal compliance are ‘concentrations’, which is the air we breathe, and the latest analysis by CAL shows the worst sites hardly changing in the last five years and in some cases worsening.”

In a speech at City Hall yesterday (February 13), the Mayor announced a series of proposals for tacking air pollution that he said would result in “incredible benefits in air quality”, including an ultra low emission zone by 2020, which would see only zero or low emission vehicles driving in central London during working hours (see airqualitynews.com story).

But Assembly member Murad Qureshi, who chairs the assembly’s health and environment committee said: “Today, the Mayor announced his wish list and shifted the responsibility of tackling poor air quality on to local authorities and his successor in 2016. The plans were announced as part of his ‘2020’ vision and therefore most of what he announced won’t take affect for another seven years.”

He continued: “The Mayor claims that since 2008 emissions of PM10 and PM2.5 have been reduced by 15% and emissions of nitrogen oxides have been reduced by 20% but these figures are computer modelled estimates of what comes out of tail pipes. What matters is what we actually breathe and the fact is London has the worst gaseous air pollution of any capital city in Europe.”

He added: “London is among the very worst cities in Europe for air pollution and as a result over 4000 lives are lost prematurely every year in this city. Not only has the Mayor fundamentally failed to address this problem during his five years in office, he has now kicked the issue into the long-grass so that someone else can deal with it.”

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