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Jean Lambert London's Green MEP

European Commission to take legal action against UK over London’s air quality

The European Commission has revealed today that it will be taking further legal action against the UK over air quality standards in London. The UK missed its deadline this year for tackling high levels of harmful airborne particles (PM10) and recently submitted an application for a delay until 2011.

However, the Commission has found that this does not meet their requirements and it will now be taking legal action for breaches of EU legislation.

Jean Lambert, London’s Green Party MEP, said:

“I welcome the European Commission’s decision to take further legal action against the UK. Far too many Londoners are dying prematurely every year due to poor air quality and thousands more are suffering from chronic breathing problems.

“This decision should be a wake up call to the Government. It is clear that there is no credible plan for London to meet the agreed limits for dangerous airborne particles, so-called PM10, which are particularly harmful to human health.

“Today Europe has showed its determination to urgently and dramatically reduce air pollution; this decision comes not a moment too soon for London’s residents.”

London Mayor Boris Johnson published his Draft Air Quality Strategy in October. However, the Commission has decided that the measures proposed for addressing transport emissions will not produce the results required to meet the EU standards.

Phase 3 of the London Low Emission Zone initiative, which was due to commence in October 2010, has been postponed until 2012, as have proposed measures aimed at reducing the negative impact of London’s taxi fleet on the city’s air quality.

The Mayor has also repeatedly stated that the Western Extension of the Congestion Charge will be removed by the end of 2010 with only vague measures being outlined as to how the negative air quality impacts of this move will be mitigated.