Cleaning Up London�s Air - A view from City Hall by Joanne McCartney AM

28th December 2016

Cleaning Up London�s Air - A view from City Hall by Joanne McCartney AM

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Clean

Air Act, brought in as a response to the 1952 Great

Smog when up to 12,000 Londoners died due to

toxic air. Currently London is breaking both legal

and World Health Organisation limits on air

pollution, and the High Court has recently found

that the Government has broken the law by failing

to act as quickly as possible to bring the UK into

compliance. The Mayor of London is calling for a

21st century Clean Air Act to deal with the massive

air quality challenges we face today.

The biggest cause of our poor air quality is diesel

vehicles. Research shows that without a change

in policy up to 9,400 people will die prematurely

across capital every year, and London will remain

above legal limits until 2025 and beyond. Toxic air

impairs child lung development for life and

worsens existing lung conditions. Research has

also identified that 443 schools in the capital are

in areas exceeding safe legal pollution levels.

Central government control some of the most

powerful policy tools to tackle air pollution and it

is important they treat this issue with urgency.

However, in addition to calling on the government

to act the Mayor has announced bold proposals

for cleaning up London’s air. These include:

• an earlier start to London’s Ultra Low emission

Zone (ULEZ) in 2019 and extending it to the

North and South Circular for all vehicles, rather

than just the central congestion zone as was

planned under the previous Mayor. For lorries,

buses and coaches the ULEZ would apply

London wide.

• an emissions surcharge on the most polluting

vehicles entering central London from 2017

• developing a detailed proposal for a national

diesel scrappage scheme for Government to

implement in order to make switching to

cleaner vehicles affordable for motorists and


Of course, London government* has to lead by

example and that’s why the Mayor has announced

plans to transform London’s bus fleet by phasing

out the oldest and most polluting diesel buses, and

making the entire fleet ultra-low or zero emission.

Clean bus corridors will be introduced along the

dirtiest routes and a new hydrogen double decker

bus will be trialed in London next year. Air quality

alerts are now being displayed at bus stops, tube

stations and roadsides warning Londoners of high

pollution levels. The level of transport monies

spent on cycling will nearly double to create more

safe, easy and well-connected cycling routes, and

soon a Walking and Cycling Commissioner will be

appointed to lead on healthy and active travel that

impacts less on the environment and makes

London a more pleasant city to live in.

Unlike sixty years ago our polluted air is often not

visible, a silent killer, but it is clear that urgent

action is needed. It seems that most Londoners

agree – a consultation on bringing forward and

extending the ULEZ this summer saw around three

quarters of respondents supporting these


Joanne is the London Assembly Member for

Enfield & Haringey is the statutory Deputy Mayor

of London.

* The Greater London Authority (GLA) comprises the

Mayor of London and the London Assembly.


Tel: 020 7983 5524

You can read his article in our Palmers Green &
Southgate LIFE Estate Agent magazine