Olympic Congestion Will Push Air Pollution Over Limit

Plan to persuade Londoners not to travel during games will be ineffectual

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Mayor of London Boris Johnson has been urged by Darren Johnson to introduce further more effective measures to tackle air pollution following an environmental report which warns that legal limits are likely to be breached because of traffic increases during the Games.

An official report on the environmental impact of the Olympic Games has admitted that increases in traffic along the Olympic Route Network will lead to European legal limits on air pollution being exceeded. The modelling done by consultants employed by the Olympic Delivery Agency (ODA) states that “… the number of daily mean exceedences at some roadside sites is anticipated to be more than the allowable number of exceedences.”

If the ODA and Mayor do not achieve a 30% reduction in normal traffic during the period of the games, then the level of pollution will be even greater than the high number of exceedences predicted in the Strategic Environmental Assessment. The traffic reduction plan relies upon persuading Londoners not to travel. Transport Minister Norman Baker is reported to have warned that it would be "impossible" for the capital to accommodate the visitors anticipated for the games as well as going about its business as usual.

Darren Johnson said: “This is a terrible admission of defeat on air pollution and contradicts all the Mayor’s promises about the greenest games ever. It is bad news for Londoners who have to suffer from the fumes generated by extra traffic. It breaks the Olympic contract in which London pledged to comply with all the environmental legislation. Going over the European legal limit for particulate pollution in 2012 would also land us immediately in court, with the possibility of a £300m fine. The Mayor needs to heed this warning by immediately introducing a Very Low Emission Zone which only allows the cleanest vehicles to enter central London.”

“The Mayor’s solution to Olympic congestion is to tell Londoners to either escape the capital or not travel around if they do stay in the capital. That is really not much of a traffic reduction plan.”

April 13, 2011