Transport Secretary Philip Hammond has committed an additional £5m funding to the Mayor of London Boris Johnson to help improve air quality in the capital.
This funding is for a programme of localised measures designed to improve London’s air quality and help compliance with legally binding European targets.
The Mayor intends to use the money to establish a ‘Clean Air Fund’ to extend measures in place at the small number of locations in central London that are at risk of exceeding the daily limit value for particulate matter (PM10) including Marylebone Road. These include: trials of dust suppressant technology, redeployment of the cleanest buses on routes through these areas and measures to reduce vehicle idling.
Other measures being developed that could now be extended include travel plans for local businesses, traffic smoothing measures, the development of a no-idling zone, local cycling and walking schemes and the introduction of ‘greening’ (e.g. tree and vegetation planting) to help absorb particles.
The EU’s Ambient Air Quality Directive 2008 requires Member States to ensure that levels of various pollutants in ambient air comply with certain standards. Air quality across much of the UK is excellent, but parts of London do not yet comply with the standard for particulate matter (PM10).
On 11 March 2011, the European Commission awarded a temporary and conditional exemption in the Greater London Urban Area for the air quality standards for PM10. This allowed the UK some additional time to comply with the air quality standard for PM10 on the condition that a number of short term measures were introduced to control activities which contribute to the risk of the PM10 limit value being exceeded. If these measures are not introduced, the risk of the Commission progressing infraction proceedings against the UK is likely to increase.
Philip Hammond said: “Reducing pollution from transport is a top priority for the Government and that is why, despite the current severe fiscal restraints, I have been able to provide £5m from in-year savings in the Department’s budget for this important initiative.
“Not only will this money help improve the environment for Londoners but it will also mean that we avoid costly infraction proceedings from the EU which could have cost us tens or hundreds of millions.
“I look forward to seeing in detail the Mayor’s specific plans and working together with both GLA and TFL to continue to improve air quality in the capital.”
The European Commission recently granted the UK more time to comply with legal standards to control particle pollution in London subject to the formal submission to the Commission of more detailed plans on the city’s pollution measures.
Boris Johnson said: “Pollution is a serious health issue for London so we welcome this cash to help us expand our existing work to tackle it.
We will use this money to create a fund for a package of clean up measures at the places where it is most needed, such as Marylebone Road, to the benefit of people living and working in these areas.
“This fund will join our panoply of initiatives to cut pollution such as a cleaner New Bus for London, a city-wide electric driving scheme and record investment into cycling.”