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Jean Lambert London's Green MEP

Thirty six days too many – Green MEP condemns Boris for failing to tackle London’s air pollution

Jean Lambert, Green MEP, has condemned the Mayor of London and the UK government for failing to take radical and immediate action to tackle air pollution in the capital, resulting in a breach of EU air quality standards and an estimated £300 million fine for the tax payer.

European law currently dictates that Member States must ensure that dangerous airborne particles known as PM10 do not go over a certain level more than 35 days per calendar year [1]. Despite a final warning from the European Commission in March, which saw the UK granted a further three months to meet legally binding air quality standards, London’s air pollution has today breached safety standards for the 36th day punishable by a fine of up to £300 million.

Speaking on the day of the breach, Jean said: “The fact that London has the dirtiest air in the UK is an utter disgrace. It is not just the matter of a £300 million fine.  It is estimated that the equivalent of over 4,000 people died prematurely in 2008 in London as a result of air pollution [2].  Not only is this a tragedy for their families, but it places an enormous burden on the health service and could be avoided.

“Claims that the Mayoral Air Quality Strategy is ‘extremely ambitious’ would be laughable if the situation wasn’t so tragic. Boris has shown little consideration for the health or quality of life of Londoners by rolling back the Western Extension of the Congestion Zone, attempting to abolish the third phase of the Low Emission Zone and dispensing the six monthly inspections of taxis. I urge the Mayor and the UK government to take, without delay, the necessary emergency action to get to grips with this invisible public health crisis.”

Notes for Editors

[1] Limit values for PM10 impose both an annual average concentration value of 40 micrograms and a daily concentration value of 50 micrograms which must not be exceeded more than 35 times per calendar year.  These entered into force on 1 January 2005.

[2] To read the Institute of Occupational Medicine’s full report on ‘Estimation of Mortality Impact of Particular Air Pollution in London’ visit: http://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/Health_Study_%20Report.pdf