Monday 21 March 2016

75% of Londoners back legal action against government over London’s dirty air

A YouGov opinion poll commissioned by environment lawyers ClientEarth, shows that three quarters of Londoners back plans by the group to take legal action against the government to force ministers to improve air quality across the capital.

The poll, carried out by pollsters YouGov, shows that when asked if they support or oppose legal action to force the Government to take action to improve air quality in London, 75% of respondents said yes to support legal action, whilst only 10% said no.

In inner London, where pollution peaks are at times among the worst in Europe, 32 per cent of parents are “very worried” about their children breathing dirty air and 43 per cent “fairly worried”.

Alan Andrews, one ClientEarth’s lawyers said “Almost 10,000 early deaths are caused by air pollution in London every year and despite clear evidence to show that air pollution has a terrible effect on the health of vulnerable groups like children, the government has consistently ducked its responsibility to ensure our right to clean air.

“The UK government’s plans to tackle illegal levels of pollution fall woefully short of what was ordered by judges in a case won by ClientEarth at the Supreme Court last April. Defra (the government department responsible for air pollution) does not envisage London having legal levels of air pollution until 2025.”

Sian Berry the Green Party candidate for London Mayor commented:

“Sixty years after the Clean Air Act helped put an end to the deadly smogs that came from coal fires and power stations, we are now faced with a comparable problem,” she says.

“The time for half-hearted efforts to clean up our polluted air and ensure compliance with existing laws is past. If I’m elected Mayor I will immediately exclude the most polluting cars, vans and lorries from central London, and speed up the switchover to make all new buses and taxis zero-emission. I will cancel road-building plans and oppose all airport expansion.

“I also believe in telling Londoners the truth, and I will provide warnings about bad air days so people can protect their health by cutting car use and avoiding outdoor exercise.

“In the longer term we need an effective new Ultra Low Emission Zone to keep polluting diesel vehicles out of London, along with fair charges on motoring to reduce traffic levels. That’s the only way we can bring pollution down to levels that we can genuinely describe as ‘quality air’.”

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