Murad Qureshi AM, vice-chair of the London Assembly Environment Committee has set the Mayor a challenge ï¿½ to ensure Londonï¿½s air is clean in time for the 2012 Olympics.
Speaking on the day the Assembly launched its critical report of Londonï¿½s air quality, Murad said:
"So far we’ve only seen backward steps from Boris on this. Behind all his charm and bluster, he has been actively dismantling measures to reduce pollution in London. He claims to be supporting 90,000 van drivers by cancelling the next phase of the Low Emission Zone, but what about the 107,000 people made ill in London each year by our pollution levels?"
Murad went on to say: "I want to see proper information available to people, in real time, advising just how dangerous our air is at given points in London ï¿½ along with a real reduction in pollution levels. The Committee’s report has also highlighted the need for better intelligence gathering in London. We know our air is reducing life expectancy in London, but we need to know for sure just how many people are affected and by how much."
He added: "Air quality was an issue at both the last two Olympic Games, in Athens and Beijing. I don’t want to see foreign athletes putting on protective masks when they touch down at Heathrow because they’re afraid to breath our air ï¿½ what would that say to the world?"
"Cleaning up London’s air is to everyone’s benefit ï¿½ from the top flight athlete down to the most wheezy amongst us. It would even benefit the drivers of those 90,000 vans."
Murad Qureshi is Labour’s spokesperson for Environment and is Vice Chair of the Assemblyï¿½s Environment Committee.
The Environment Committee’s evidence sessions into air quality took place at on 4th February 2009 and Thursday 5th March at City Hall.
The Committee heard evidence from:
Professor Frank Kelly, Kings College London
Sean Beevers, Kings College London
Gary Fuller, Kings College London
Sheila Keating, Energy Savings Trust
Simon Birkett, Campaign for Clean Air London
Dr Iarla Kilbane-Dawe, AEA consultancy
Gwyn Jones, AEA consultancy
Isabel Dedring, Director of Environmental Policy (Mayor’s office)
Peter Daw, Strategy Manager ï¿½ Air Quality, Energy, and Climate Change
Martin Williams, Air and Environment Quality Division, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Professor John Whitelegg, Stockholm Environment Institute, University of York
Nick Fairholme, Head of the London Low Emission Zone, Transport for London,
Nichola Cheetham Head of Environment, Surface Transport, Transport for London
Charles Buckingham, Impacts Monitoring Manager, Transport for London
Ruth Calderwood, Environmental Policy Officer, City of London
Mike LeRoy, Environment Policy Manager, Westminster City Council
Defra figures estimate that ill health due to poor air quality costs the UK economy between ï¿½9billion and ï¿½20billion a year and poor air quality causes at least 1,000 premature deaths a year in London.
Some emerging research suggests the number of deaths in London from poor air quality could be as high as 3,500
The Assemblyï¿½s report "Every Breath You Take ï¿½ An Investigation into Air Quality in London" can be found at: http://www.london.gov.uk/assembly/reports/environment.jsp
For further information please contact or Alison Marcroft on 020 7983 4400.