Boris Johnson has been urged to reverse his pro-motorist policies after the EU warned of hundreds of thousands of Londoners being at serious risk from polluted air.
Correspondence between the government and Boris Johnson obtained by the Guardian, reveals that the EU could impose unlimited fines if the Mayor does not take urgent measures.
Green Assembly Member Darren Johnson said today:
“With hundreds of thousands of Londoners exposed to dangerously polluted air everyday, it is time for the Mayor to act.”
“Unfortunately, of the few clear decisions that Boris has taken so far, many will worsen, not improve air quality. He has cancelled a traffic reduction scheme at Parliament Square, dropped public procurement of hydrogen cars and is consulting about reversing the western extension of the congestion charging?”
When questioned by the Assembly, Boris promised that he would take "extra measures" to reduce the quantities of "fine particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide" in the atmosphere.
However, his plans to expand London City Airport and build a new airport in the Thames Estuary will only further add to air pollution in the capital. Darren Johnson added:
“Rather than saying one thing and doing another, London’s new Mayor must show that the health of Londoners is his priority by taking cars off the roads, replacing them with cyclists, pedestrians, and public transport.”
If air pollution is not reduced by a third on London's busiest streets, the UK could be taken to the European court, with the potential for unlimited fines to be imposed.
But beyond any financial or environmental implication, the continuing problem of dire air quality is a huge health risk. Current levels of pollution are estimated to cause around 32,000 premature deaths in the UK each year.
And with rising petrol prices pushing drivers onto diesel, it is more important than ever that Boris Johnson puts the brakes on his pro-motorist agenda.