Sunday, January 04, 2009

Europe to sue London over pollution levels?

Whilst the UK attempts to position itself at the vanguard of environmental legislation the following article suggests that the UK needs to tidy up its own back yard.

This is traffic related. Those that oppose the combustion charge should take heed.

Europe threatens legal action over London's high pollution [thisislondon]

Britain is being taken to court because of illegal levels of air pollution in London.

Legal action is being prepared by the European Commission because the Government has failed to prevent breaches along 125 miles of roads in the capital.

Confirmation of the court threat was given in a letter from the European Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas who said six air quality zones were showing higher levels of the pollutant PM10 in the air than allowed under European directives.

"As supplementary assessment indicates, there are PM10 exceedances in London along more than 200 kilometres of roads, which means the abatement task in order to achieve compliance appears very challenging," warned Mr Dimas.

PM10 is a pollutant linked to asthma and cardiovascular disease, particularly affecting the elderly.

An EU air quality directive that came into force in June ordered all member states to meet maximum levels for the toxin, but gave them the chance of appealing for extra time to reduce levels.

However the deadline for requests for an extension expired on 31 October without the British government making a request.

"In view of the serious consequences to public health of high concentrations of PM10, the commission expects the UK to take ambitious measures to ensure a speedy reduction of concentrations," said Mr Dimas.

However, he went on to say that because Britain had not shown any justification for an exemption, "the commission services are now preparing the launch of infringement proceedings against the UK".

Mr Dimas revealed the legal preparations in a letter to the Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman and MP for Kingston and Surbiton, Ed Davey.

Mr Davey said: "If the Government after 10 years cannot even meet air quality standards in the capital city, what credence can we give to its commitment to tackling climate change?

"This Government has failed on the environment and failed to curb emissions year in, year out. It's time they were brought to book."

Air pollution is monitored at a network of recording stations across London.

They keep data about when levels exceed European limits and over what period of time they have.

Most sites are in central London, reflecting the density of buildings and traffic use. So far this year most have exceeded European constraints, according to the Air Quality Network, which is run by King's College.


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