London’s Greens call for smog warning as capital ‘breaches’ pollution limits

Smog City: The view from City Hall this morning
London’s Green party has called on the European Commission to “take action to protect the health of Londoners” after an air quality monitoring station provisionally recorded the 36th ‘bad air day’ of the year.

If confirmed. the number of breaches mean London has exceeded European rules which permit the UK only 35 ‘bad’ days at any one site and risks London taxpayers incurring a £300m fine.

Earlier this year the Commission suspended legal action and granted the capital an extension to meet targets for the level of pollutants known as PM10’s present in the air.

London Assembly Member Jenny Jones says she has written to the Commission calling for them to take action and repeated previous claims that “delays and dithering on air pollution” by Mayor Boris Johnson were “likely to put the UK in the dock unless he immediately takes action.”

Jones has also called on the Mayor to issue a smog alert warning to ensure crowds gathering to mark next week’s Royal wedding are aware of possible health dangers.

She said Johnson “should be making people aware of what they are breathing in and the risks to their health.

“It is important information for people to know if they suffer from a pre-existing respiratory problem. London is currently experiencing an air pollution episode and this is likely to carry through to the Royal Wedding.”

The Mayor has previously claimed that 75% of pollution in the capital originates from mainland Europe, however a European Commission spokesperson recently disputed this.

Simon Birkett, Founder and Director of Clean Air in London, said Londoners “need Mayor Johnson and the Government to tackle an invisible public health crisis with as many premature deaths attributable to air pollution in London in 2008 as we thought occurred during the Great Smog of 1952.”

Friends of the Earth London Campaigner, Jenny Bates claimed Londoners were “choking on air so dirty it’s illegal” and called on the Mayor to “improve air quality by prioritising funding for measures that will get Londoners driving less and walking, cycling and using public transport more.”