London gets 3-month extra time to clean up air
LONDON EUROPE has given Britain three more months to meet air quality standards in London or face huge fines, on the condition that the capital steps up measures to tackle pollution.
The European Commission said it was giving the UK until June 11 to meet limits on the amount of airborne PM10 particles in the atmosphere or face legal action.
The particles are emitted mainly by industry, traffic and domestic heating and can cause asthma, cardiovascular problems and lung cancer.
Last June the Commission gave the UK a “final warning”, to clean up the air in Greater London and Gibraltar, or be taken to the European Court of Justice where it could face fines of up to Â£300 million.
Gibraltar has now been declared within the limits, but extra time was granted for London on condition that short-term measures are introduced to reduce the risk of topping daily PM10 limits.
The threshold should not be exceeded more than 35 times in a year.
Steps could include action on traffic, construction work, shipping, industrial plants or domestic heating.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson must also revise his air quality strategy by June and submit it to the Commission for scrutiny by November.
EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik, said: “Air pollution from PM10 has serious impacts on human health.
That is why the EU legislation sets strict standards.
“The Commission expects member states to clearly demonstrate that they are doing their utmost, in the interest of their citizens, to comply with the standards in the shortest possible time.” EU infringement procedures have been opened against 20 of the EU’s 27 member states since the introduction of the EU Air Quality Directive in June 2008 with Slovenia and Sweden already referred to the European Court of Justice.
The mayor’s office said “serious steps” had already been taken to tackle pollution including a trial scheme to spray busy roads to reduce dust, promotion of low emission vehicles, such as hybrid buses, and investment in cycling and electric cars.
“This is a welcome recognition of the serious steps that the mayor has taken to reduce PM10 pollution in order to confront the legacy of poor air quality he inherited and that led to this issue being taken to the European commission in the first place,” a spokesman for the mayor said.
“We look forward to working with the government to further reassure the commission, and more importantly people in London, that we have robust, sensible and proportionate measures in place to reduce pollution levels ensuring that the capital is as healthy and clean as possible.”