Boris Johnson has been accused of undermining Government efforts to prove to the European Commission that it can meet legally binding targets to reduce air pollution.
The accusation has been made by Green Party Assembly Member Darren Johnson who said the Mayor’s plans to scrap the western extension of the congestion charge and suspend stage three of the Low Emission Zone damaged government calculations on the UK’s efforts to reduce emissions.
Mr Johnson claimed the Mayor’s decisions “have seriously messed up the Government’s strategy to avoid large fines from the European Commission.”
“The Mayor’s decisions to weaken both congestion charging and the Low Emission Zone have been the height of irresponsibility and an absolute disaster for London’s environment. No other proposals by either the mayor or the Government could deliver the same scale of reductions in emissions within the next year. Air pollution in the capital already results in over 1,000 premature deaths per year and there is emerging evidence that it is having a serious impact on the long-term development of children’s lungs.”
Mr Johnson’s claimed have been strongly denied by City Hall. A spokesperson for the Mayor of London told MayorWatch the Mayor “has met with the Government to discuss air quality and, far from scuppering their ability to meet the European target, he has laid out clear plans to reduce pollution in the capital.”
The spokesman added: “The first two phases of the Low Emission Zone have worked well and targeted the heaviest polluting vehicles. However phase three would clobber London’s small businesses, the backbone of the capital’s economy, with a bill that in the current economic climate could put many of them out of existence.
“The Mayor believes that a range of other measures will allow real progress to be made by 2012 in terms of cutting pollution and hitting air quality targets. At a recent meeting with with Lord Hunt to discuss air quality issues they agreed that the GLA and Defra will work on a package of measures, both national and regional, which will address PM10 emissions in London in order to meet EU targets. He has also written to Lord Mandelson, the Trade and Industry Secretary, with the aim of working with the Government on a subsidy scheme for replacing the oldest, most polluting light goods vehicles.
“This is all before consideration of the improvements to London’s air quality that will result from work taking place to re-phase the traffic signals, open bus lanes to motorbikes, working with utility companies to cut the chaos caused by their works, encouraging people out of their cars with vast improvements to the public transport network and the introduction of a cycle hire scheme with 6000 bikes by 2010.”