LibLink: Getting real about tackling London’s air pollution

Greenpeace has been asking the London Mayoral candidates about how they would tackle air pollution in London, where air quality is one of the lowest in Europe.

Here is Caroline Pidgeon’s response:

It was not long ago that understanding about air pollution was pitiful, especially amongst MPs. Just 18 months ago a poll of 100 MPs revealed that hardly any recognised that air pollution the second biggest public health risk, with only smoking posing a greater risk.Thankfully things are changing. Yet while the greater recognition of the horrific consequences of air pollution is welcome, the real challenge is to ensure action is actually taken.My manifesto is quite clear that real action is needed straight away.

One immediate step is to increase the Congestion Charge by £2.50 for diesel vehicles.At the same time we need to improve and expand the proposed Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ). Waiting four and half years until it starts is not acceptable. I would bring its implementation forward to 2018.The size of the ULEZ is also too small. It should be expanded to cover London inside the north and south circular roads.

Alongside these measures we also need bolder steps to make walking and cycling far more attractive, including a peak-time ban on HGVs and the full pedestrianisation of Oxford Street. We also need to actively deter commuting into London by car. In central London and Canary Wharf I would introduce a workplace parking levy on employers with parking spaces, with only disabled parking spaces and spaces for health and emergency service staff excluded.I also reject the idea that we can build our way out of congestion. New road tunnels and especially the proposed Silvertown Tunnel should be cancelled.  We need to improve river crossings by foot, bike and public transport, but not for motorists.

And of course we need to ensure London truly goes electric. The recent increase in uptake of electric cars is encouraging but the real challenge is to ensure buses and taxis are electric as well. I specifically advocate TfL bulk purchasing a fleet of electric taxis and then leasing and selling them to drivers and garages. This must also be backed up by a network of rapid charging docking stations.It nothing less than a scandal that the Royal Albert Hall could be filled twice over by the number of Londoners who prematurely die each year –  simply due to the poor quality of London’s air.Choosing to not effectively tackle the problem is an act of inhumanity.

We can and must end the scandal of poor air pollution in London.

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  • Excellent approach by Caroline Pidgeon. We also mustn’t forget pedestrians of course. With new cycle lanes, great though they are, road layouts can be confusing and some cyclists are also very impatient at traffic lights, so we need good signage. I have noticed walking to be virtually as quick as taking the Tube in some parts of Central London so walking also needs to be promoted as an option.

    But what is incomprehensible is how manufacturers could rig the results knowing the impact of particulates on health.

  • Looks like my idea of building a nuclear power station at Battersea, isn’t so far fetched; it will be needed for London to truely go electric…

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