London Sustainability Exchange: Cleaner air for communities

Speaking at the London Sustainability Exchange "Cleaner Air for Communities" project

Speaking at the London Sustainability Exchange “Cleaner Air for Communities” project

I was glad to join a lunch time session at LSx’s ” Cleaner Air 4 London’s Communities – How can local residents & volunteers across London tackle air pollution” in Manor House, North London.

During the session I essentially made three points. The first is that the recent figures released by the Department of Health do not tally with those from the Mayors office on death rates. Their figures tell us death rates have worsned in 15 out of 33 borough’s in London, with Hillingdon topping the national list of shame for increase in deaths attributable to air pollution. Thus the Department of Health figures do not tally with the Mayor’s claim that emissions of PM10 in London has been reduced by 15 per cent since 2008. Thats not surprising as his figures are based on computer modelling whilst the Dept are real figures.

Secondly the ultra low emission zone (ULEZ) announced by the Mayor is muddled as the Mayor stated at first it would included all vehicles but now suggests it would only include new vehicles. When the ULEZ was announced in Feb 2013 only vehicles allowed into zone would be zero or low emissions giving due notice to consumers and manufacturers as a target of 2020 is set.  Yet more recently he states only new vehicles would be included. Quite honestly the Mayor needs to be honest with Londoners, as he waters down his policy before its even taken off the ground. And by the time ULEZ is in place another 32,000 will have died prematurely.

Finally the rise in the removal of diesel particulate filters (DPF’s) is setting a worrying new trend. The removal of DPFs serious threat to tackling air pollution in London as it becomes popular to have the filters removed as it can be expensive to clean ans replace them. Now we do have new guidance from the Department of Transport making the removing of the DPF’s illegal but its vital that Police,VOSA (Vehicle Operators Service Agency) and Trading Standards work together to tackle growing problem. In the meantime, Berlin has banned the oldest diesel vehicles of all sorts from polluted places nearly four year ago and expect to tighten its standard again in 2015.

I trust these points were useful for the coference to hear over lunch.