Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Mike Tuffrey and London’s Shite Air Quality

Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 19th January, 2012

During his 10 years on the London Assembly, LibDem Mike Tuffrey has made environmental issues one of his top priorities. And although he is standing down in May, he is still a man on a mission, all guns metaphorically firing, on the matter of London’s poor air quality. As he told a meeting of Merton Liberal Democrats at a policy fourm in Morden this evening, though we may not be able to see the pollution in the capital’s air these days — unlike the ghastly ‘pea-soupers’ of the 1950s — in Central London in particular the amount of harmful particulates and NO2 is often alarming. The European Union, to its credit, has set standards for air quality, to which all member stats are meant to adhere. In fact, these are only half as strict as World Health Organisation guidelines, and yet as the Mayor, Boris Johnson, admits in some respects London still falls short of what is desirable. The main victims of this are the elderly and children, as well as asthma sufferers, of course. The latter can tell when there is a particularly bad day even if the pollution monitors which boroughs are meant to instal and maintain are not functioning. Roads, or rather the traffic they carry, are the main polluters and despite all the publicity about the supposed environmental advantages of diesel fuel, diesel fumes are particularly noxious, Mike says. While some of us might hope that London could follow the example of continental cities such as Berlin and Copenhagen and make a concerted effort to turn our city more bicycle-friendly, great effort also needs to be put in to encourage the shift towards electric vehicles, especially light goods vehicles. Mike also pointed out that Heathrow is the one serious blackspot outside the centre of London, not just because of the aircraft but also because of all the vehicles that transfer the passengers to and from the airport. Tougher standards on what sort of vehicles can enter the airport would certainly help, but it is unlikely BAA would agree to such a measure. In the meantime, though, Mike stressed that although environmental issues rank relatively low in the priorities of a majority of London’s voters, health is a major concern. And poor air quality is even more of a health mattter than it is an environmental concern.

Link: www.mertonlibdems.org.uk

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