DEFRA v GLA: How NOT to improve Air Quality


Murad and Nicky Gavron with EU commissioner Potocnik during his visit to London last week

Last week, for the first time, we heard the Mayor’s office openly disagreeing with central government over the proposal in the Localism Bill (clause 30), to pass on EU fines to local public authorities like the GLA. Sir Simon Milton (Deputy Mayor and chief of staff to the Mayor of London) spoke during a parliamentary public bill Committee meeting on the Localism bill confirming the Mayor’s objection in principle to the concept of “delegating fines without also delegating the funds, resources and powers to take the steps necessary to avoid the fines” (column 51). While it was argued this would be grossly unfair for a variety of reasons, it also became apparent that central government and the Mayor’s office are proposing a different list of measures in order to bring the capital within the standards set. This lack of cohesion between the 2 simply adds to the confusion and turmoil surrounding the issue of air quality and fines. It is most regrettable, that we lack a solid game plan when we have such an important goal to achieve, which, ultimately, is to improve London’s air quality – Londoners’ biggest public health issue. The GLA and DEFRA can’t seem to agree what measures are needed in order to bring us below the EU targets and to achieve a time extension in which to comply. This is something I pointed out to EU Commissioner Potocnik commissioner last week when he passed through London. Clearly the government must think that some of the measures put forwarded by the GLA simply don’t stand up and therefore, it is not prepared to put these forward to the EU in support of a time extension? There is a need for unity and positive direction, because without this, Londoner’s health as well as their pockets are damaged. Unfortunately, there are likely to be more twists and turns in this sorry saga before we reach a satisfactory resolution.

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