Since Boris Johnson became the Mayor in 2008, the urgency of the matter of poor air quality on Londoners’ health has been highlighted in two reports. The first by the London Assembly’s Environment Committee called ” Every breath you take ” and the second released by the Parliamentary Environment Audit Committee just before the General Election was called. Both highlight the fact that the impact of pollution levels on the life expectancy of Londoners is much greater than was originally thought when the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) was set up by the previous Mayor , Ken Livingstone on February 2008. Pollution has been found to have 4 to 5 times more impact on the numbers of premature deaths in London that was earlier thought. We know it reduces everybody in the UK’s life expectancy by on average seven to eight months and can you imagine what it must be for those more directly affected.
In the meantime the Mayor has decided not to implement the third phase of the LEZ for small vans; he has proposed to roll back on the Western Extension Zone (WEZ) even though it has produced a welcome reduction on the environmental impact of cars in one of London’s major pollution hotspots and of course he has simply abolished the six monthly inspection for black cabs right at the very beginning of his tenure as Mayor.
So it’s not surprising that the UK has received a second warning over air pollution from the European Commission last week with regard to PM10. According to the latest data, the Greater London Urban area has again exceeded limits for PM10 since 2008. Therefore the Mayor must take full responsibility for the fact that London has been singled out as the only area of the UK mainland now breaching the legal standard. The Commission actually goes further, stating that: “London did not have any real plans for cleaning up the air and would not be able to reduce pollution by the time the exemption period expires in 2011.”
I put it to the Mayor at the last Mayor’s Question Time (MQT) that after two years of just consulting on his air quality strategy and no action, he is going to make us the dirty man of Europe before the Olympics in 2012.