London’s Green Party has questioned Mayor of London Boris Johnson’s
ability to meet the capital’s target PM10 (particulates) levels by 2011 after the capital exceeded permitted levels on 36 separate days in the past 6 months – more than the permitted 35 days allowed for the entire year.
The figures relate the monitoring station at Upper Thames Street and come after EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik issued a “second and final written warning” over pollution levels earlier this month.
EU directives 1999/30/EC and 96/62/EC set daily limit of 50 micrograms (μg)/m3 and yearly limit of average concentration value of 40 micrograms (μg)/m3 for PM10 emissions which both the Greater London Urban Area and Gibraltar have exceeded.
Although a 2008 air quality Directive allows for extensions to be given, a request to allow the capital further time to meet targets was refused in December 2009 with officials ruling claiming the capital “did not meet the minimum requirements”.
Warning that the capital faced fines from the EU, London Assembly Member Darren Johnson accused the Mayor of “reversing, delaying or diluting the majority of the existing measures which he has himself promoted as vital for reducing air pollution.”
“In the five months left before the clock starts ticking on the crunch year for air pollution, the London mayor will be consulting on the abolition of the western extension of the congestion charge and proposing to delay action against polluting vans. He has already cut the budget for London’s traffic reducing “Smarter Travel” program by £8m, including halving the money for car clubs and greenway cycle routes. He has abolished mid year inspections for black cabs, which previous fixed over 2,300 of the most polluting taxis.”
“Over two thirds of the electric charging points which this mayor is aiming to install will be left to the next mayoral term. The mayor’s air quality strategy has again been delayed and there are significant doubts about whether the new initiatives proposed will actually be funded.”
Friends of the Earth Jenny Bates has also called on the Mayor to take action “to ensure that EU legal air pollution limits are not breached and that the health of Londoners is properly protected.”
Bates said it was time “the Mayor kept his promise to make London the greenest capital in the world.”
A spokesperson for the Mayor said Upper Thames Street was “one of several central London locations which will receive a targeted package of measures to tackle pollution, for example applying dust suppressants to road surfaces and deploying the cleanest buses into these areas.
“By taking this course of action at the few locations that are at risk of breaching limits, we are confident that London is well on track to meet PM10’s values by 2011. Other initiatives include proposed age limits for taxis, converting the bus fleet to hybrid and investing record levels into cycling.
“We are also proposing to include the dirtiest lorries and vans in the London Low Emission Zone by early January 2012. The New Bus for London will be 40 per cent less polluting than traditional diesel and we are spending millions to support the mainstream use of zero-polluting electric vehicles.”