London warned to take urgent action on air pollution ahead of Olympics

A motion agreed today said the amount of nitrogen dioxide in the capital’s air is higher than any other European capital city and recently published government plans show levels may not be reduced to legal limits until 2025.

Assembly Members said Londoners should not have to wait another decade for clean and healthy air to breathe.

In the absence of sufficient urgent action at national level, Members called for the Mayor to update his Air Quality Strategy to ensure that the capital’s air meets legal standards for nitrogen dioxide by 2015, at the latest.

Darren Johnson AM, who proposed the motion, said: “Improving London’s are quality is far more important than simply avoiding hefty EU fines, it’s about stopping the premature deaths of 4,000 people every year.

“If those 4,000 deaths a year were as a result of accidents on the tube or drowning in the Thames the Mayor and central government would feel compelled to act immediately. The fact that the poison in our air is invisible does not mean tackling poor air quality should be treated any less urgently.”

The motion was seconded by Murad Qureshi, AM, who added: “We should be ashamed that there are children growing up in London today who will never have fully developed lung capacity because of the pollution they are forced to breath every day. This issue is a real health emergency for London, if central government is slow to act then the Mayor must take a lead.”

The full text of the motion reads:

“The Assembly notes with concern that:

* London’s air has the highest average concentration of harmful nitrogen dioxide of any European capital city;

* The Mayor’s Air Quality Strategy relies on government delivering specific measures and funding to enable legal limits for nitrogen dioxide to be met in London by 2015; and

* In June 2011 the government published, for consultation, plans to address nitrogen dioxide pollution. The plans reveal that London’s air quality may not comply with legal limits until 2025.

“This Assembly considers that it is unacceptable for Londoners to have to wait a further ten years for clean and healthy air. In the absence of sufficient urgent action at national level, the Assembly calls on the Mayor to update his air quality strategy to include faster and stronger action in London to ensure that the capital’s air meets legal standards for nitrogen dioxide by 2015, at the latest.”

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