Improvement in London’s air quality recorded
London entered the third week of January this year without having breached legal air pollution limits for the first time since modern records began.
The capital’s air quality has exceeded hourly pollution limits for toxic nitrogen dioxide (NO2) by 6 January every year for the past decade, and often by 3 January, but has not yet done so in 2018.
This is thought to be partly thanks to the introduction of a £10 ‘T-charge’ on the city’s most polluting petrol and diesel vehicles, with an ultra-low emission zone also planned for next year.
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “At long last we are seeing some improvements in our toxic air, but much more needs to be done before Londoners can finally breathe a proper sigh of relief.
“I’ve made it my priority to safeguard Londoners’ health by targeting the capital’s most polluted areas and ensuring TfL have the funding needed to deliver the ultra-low emission zone and its expansion to help transform London’s air.”
For London to breach legal limits for NO2 there needs to be a recording of very high pollution for 18 hours at any individual site, but only eight hours have been recorded so far this year.
An example of the improving air pollution was recorded in Putney High Street last year, with the number of limit breaches falling by 90% from 2016 following the introduction of a low emission bus zone.
However, air quality is expected to exceed the hourly limit later this month, with a recent report revealing that 95% of London’s population lives in an area that exceeds World Health Organisation guidelines for air pollution by 50% or more.
The mayor has outlined a £800m plan to transform the capital’s air quality, which is intended to cut nitrogen oxide road transport emissions by 45% over the next two years, and 30% by 2021 in inner and outer London.
This is expected to result in approximately 100,000 people no longer living in areas that exceed legal limits for air pollution.
“But I can’t stop this health crisis without more help,” Khan said “Londoners deserve a government that wakes up to the scale of this problem and delivers tough new air quality legislation so that legal limits are met all year round.
“Instead of shamefully blocking the capital from accessing the new National Clean Air Fund, the government should be helping me deliver a vehicle scrappage scheme to firmly and fairly get the filthiest cars off our roads now."