EU Acts To Protect Londoners From Pollution

Toxic emissions blamed for thousands of premature deaths

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Sarah Ludford MEP
Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP

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The European Commission has launched legal proceedings against the UK for its failure to cut toxic levels of nitrogen dioxide, linked to premature deaths in London.

This follows a UK Supreme Court ruling in 2013 that EU air pollution limits are regularly exceeded in 16 zones across the UK including Greater London, with current air quality improvement plans envisaging London compliance with EU standards only in 2025, fifteen years after the original deadline.

Liberal Democrat MEP for London Sarah Ludford commented: “Thousands of people die as a result of air pollution in London every year, so we need urgent action to help clean up the capital’s air. The Tory Mayor of London is not doing enough to protect Londoners, just engaging in stunts like glueing polluting particles to the roads! So EU enforcement proceedings will help knock heads together at City Hall about the need to reduce chronically dirty air in London.”

“As most nitrogen dioxide pollution is caused by traffic fumes, Liberal Democrats are calling for a ‘Big Switch’ to electric-powered buses, taxis and vans. While the Mayor has introduced two pure electric buses in the capital, he needs to go much further and faster.” 

At a public meeting in Ealing on 20th January, spokesperson for West London Friends, Nic Ferriday, claimed that Ealing council had no interest in the issue of air pollution. The deputy leader was unable to comment or refute the claim. Now, just one day later, the EU has started proceedings against London for systematically breaching pollution standards set to protect human health and for systematically failing to address the problem.

Nic Ferriday commented “Air pollution is a huge issue in London. It is estimated that over 4,000 people die every year from air pollution, far more than from road traffic accidents, crime or drugs. Yet the councils and Mayor Boris Johnson have done hardly anything to address the problem. It is a shocking indictment of our politicians that the EU has felt the need to step in to protect the lives of its citizens. London could face of millions of pounds in fines and if it does, we will hold the negligent politicians responsible.”

February 21, 2014