Environmental Protection UK (EPUK) welcomes an additional £5 million of funding to improve London's air quality, announced by the Transport Secretary Phillip Hammond yesterday.
The money will be used by the Mayor of London to establish a 'Clean Air Fund', marking a U-turn in the Mayor's refusal to amend short term plans to tackle illegal levels of air pollution in the capital.
The European Commission recently granted the UK government a time extension for meeting air pollution limits in London. The extension temporarily removed the threat of large fines from the European Courts, but came with the condition that new measures were established to tackle air pollution hotspots in the city.
Several locations in London are at risk of exceeding the EU's limits for dangerous particulate matter (known as PM10) in the atmosphere. PM10 is highly damaging to human health: it is associated with illness and premature death from heart and lung disease.Potential measures to reduce PM10 include include dust suppressant technology that 'sticks' PM10 to the road, deploying cleaner buses on routes running through the most polluted areas, and measures to reduce vehicle idling. The 'Clean Air Fund' will help to pay for these new measures.
James Grugeon, Chief Executive of Environmental Protection UK, said, 'EPUK welcomes the additional funding to improve air quality in London. Air pollution is one of the biggest public health issues facing the capital, causing more premature deaths than passive smoking and traffic accidents combined.
'The Mayor's U-turn is a sign that he's starting to understand air quality in London is unacceptable, but he needs to take stronger action. This Clean Air Fund is just the start.'
Simon Birkett, EPUK Air Quality Committee member and Director of Clean Air in London, said, 'Clean Air in London welcomes the Mayor's U-turn on his refusal to amend short-term plans to improve air quality in London as requested by the European Commission.
'We look forward to scrutinising what he sends to the Government and what it sends to Brussels.However, let's not forget that the Mayor's backward steps on crucial long-term measures, like Phase 3 of the low emission zone, will make it very difficulty for the Mayor belatedly to close the legal gap and protect the health of Londoners through short-term measures.'