London Assembly member Murad Qureshi criticises Mayor’s record on air quality and says opportunities have been missed
The Mayor of London has come under fire from Labour which has described his efforts to improve air quality in the capital as ‘disappointing’ and claimed he has a ‘laissez faire’ approach to the issue.
London Assembly member Murad Qureshi said that Boris Johnson has missed opportunities to extend the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) in the capital and to increase the number of buses retrofitted with equipment to tackle NOx air pollution.
And according to Mr Qureshi, the Mayor ‘lacked enthusiasm’ in his response to a joint appeal from City of Westminster council, Camden council and City of London corporation calling for urgent action to be taken on air pollution.
The councils wrote a joint letter to Mr Johnson in June 2012 stating that they were concerned about the high levels of roadside nitrogen dioxide in central London and calling for a range of measures to be considered. These included a review of the bus network to reduce congestion around routes with particularly poor air quality, and a reduction of the age limit for taxis operating in the capital from 15 to 10 years.
They also called for the Mayor to offer funding or grants to taxi drivers to encourage them to use taxis which release fewer pollutants into the air as well as for an extension of the LEZ.
Responding to the councils in a letter dated July 13, Mr Johnson said he was ‘pleased’ that the councils shared his commitment to improving air quality in London and said the measures the city had put in place to tackle the problem were among the ‘most ambitious’ of any in Europe.
The Mayor also highlighted the city’s bus fleet, which he said has an average age of six years. However he did not commit to additional measures to reduce the age of taxis currently operating in the capital or to extend the low emission zone.
Commenting on the letter, Mr Qureshi, said: “Unfortunately, this comes as no surprise. His manifesto for his second term had no commitments to improving air quality despite its huge health impact on Londoners, being responsible for 4,300 premature deaths every year. Poor air quality is the second biggest public health issue after smoking in London.
“It is scandalous that the Mayor is adopting a laissez-faire approach to an issue which affects every single living, breathing organism in this city. As these three councils have recognised, more needs to be done.â€?