The European Commission this morning ruled that Britain could delay being hit with a potential ï¿½300m fine for its poor air quality by introducing "short term measures" to prevent legal particulate limits being breached in London or by "suspending activities" which contribute to the problem.
The Commission ruled that an "action plan" should be in place for London by June this year and a more comprehensive plan by November.
Air quality in London is the worst in Europe and according to Boris Johnson contributes to the early deaths of more than 4,000 people in the city.
Murad Qureshi, Labour’s environment spokesman on the London Assembly, said
"If Boris Johnson hadn’t halved the size of the congestion charge zone, cancelled taxi inspections and suspended fines for the most polluting vehicles, London and Britain would be in a much healthier state today. Dirty vans and minibuses would have been off our roads by now but for the actions of this Mayor. He has taken London backwards in the fight to improve the city’s air and should take urgent action now to put this right."
In February 2009 Boris Johnson suspended the next phase of London’s Low Emission Zone. The third phase was due to come into force last October and would have meant the most polluting vans and minibuses would be charged ï¿½100 a day to drive into Greater London.
In January 2011 Boris Johnson halved the size of the congestion charge zone. Just half the income from the western extension of the zone would have raised enough money to pay for the greening of London’s polluting vans and minibuses
Research shows that twenty times more people are killed by London’s poor air than in road traffic accidents
Murad Qureshi’s response to the Mayor’s draft air quality strategy included proposals for:
Targeted "low emission zones" to cut traffic in pollution hot-spots
Improved information for Londoners on local air quality levels – via text message alerts, for example
The introduction of a vehicle retrofitting subsidy scheme
Improved transport to Heathrow airport as new figures show three-quarters of toxic nitrogen oxide pollution in the local area could be caused by road vehicles
There were 184 fatalities caused by road traffic collisions during 2009 (http://bit.ly/94fGRH). An Institute of Occupational Medicine report commissioned by the Mayor and published in June 2009 estimated that 4,267 deaths in London could be attributed to the city’s air quality (http://bit.ly/aPu8GF)
EU Commission press release
For further information please contact Alison Marcroft on 020 7983 4363