Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has welcomed a High Court ruling that the Government has broken the law by failing to tackle illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) air pollution as quickly as possible.
Sadiq Khan claimed that the case, brought by environmental legal group ClientEarth, must be a 'wake-up call' to Government to finally take effective action to improve air quality in London and around the country.
It is estimated that 9,400 deaths occur each year in London due to illnesses caused by long-term exposure to air pollution, while 448 schools in London are in areas exceeding legal air quality levels.
Ministers will now have to put in place new measures to remove illegal levels of NO2 air pollution.
Sadiq Khan's new proposed measures for the capital include a T-charge (Emissions Surcharge) in the Congestion Charging Zone in 2017 and potentially introducing the Ultra Low Emission Zone a year earlier in 2019 as well as expanding it up to the North / South circular. This is the toughest crackdown on the most polluting vehicles by any major city around the world.
He said: “Today’s High Court ruling brings sharply into focus the scale of the country’s air pollution crisis and lays the blame at the door of the Government for its complacency in failing to tackle the problem quickly and credibly. In so doing they have let down millions of people the length and breadth of the country.
“This must now act as a real wake-up call to Government to finally get to grips with this national health emergency that is causing 9,400 deaths every year just in London alone. Serious action by the Government is long overdue and if we had been given the tools to tackle this head-on in the first place we would have been on the road to compliance much sooner. We need bold measures, fit for the 21st century, such as those I have proposed, so people no longer have to fear the air they breathe.
“I am calling for the Government’s revised package of measures to include funding a national diesel scrappage scheme to take the most polluting vehicles off our roads and an overhaul of vehicle excise duty to incentivise the buying of the cleanest vehicles, as well as powers to tackle non-road sources of NO2, including from construction. The Government needs to take urgent action to achieve legal air quality limits, reduce harmful emissions and protect public health.
“The European Union currently provides the legal framework which protects Londoners' right to clean air and the Government must also make sure Brexit isn't used as an excuse to weaken existing standards and delay taking the bold action needed.”