Environment Secretary Owen Paterson and London Mayor hold talks over issues around air quality in London
London Mayor Boris Johnson and Environment Secretary Owen Paterson have met to address the capital’s air quality problem, Defra has revealed.
Details of the discussion have not been publicised, but newly appointed minister for air quality, Dan Rogerson, revealed that the meeting had taken place this month, after being questioned on the issue in the House of Commons.
The Liberal Democrat MP was responding to questions from Labour MPs Valierie Vaz and Jim Fitzpatrick over what the government is doing to address the number of deaths in the UK which can be directly attributable to air pollution.
Outlining the government’s plans to address the issue, he said: “Air quality in the United Kingdom has improved significantly over many years, but it still has an effect equivalent to reducing the average life expectancy of everyone living in the UK by six months. The Government are committed to ongoing work to reduce the impact and have invested many billions of pounds in measures that will help to reduce air pollution from transport, energy and industrial sources.â€?
Ms Vaz, the MP for Walsall South, also claimed that government risked a ‘public health crisis’ if air quality in the UK is to worsen, and asked what more the government could do to avoid further potential deaths in light of the Supreme Court ruling in May that the UK was failing its legal duty to tackle air pollution (see airqualitynews.com story)
Mr Rogerson added: “If we take the transport sources of air pollution, for example, we have invested over £1 billion in measures to promote growth in electric vehicles, which will help to transform future air quality, along with cleaner buses and a range of other policies. We are also negotiating at the European level for better standards in diesel vehicles, which contribute significantly to oxides of nitrogen levels.â€?
Meanwhile, Mr Fitzpatrick, the MP for Poplar and Limehouse in East London asked whether the minister had worked alongside the Greater London Authority to tackle air pollution in the city. Responding to the question, the minister claimed that while he had yet to discuss the issue with the Mayor, Mr Paterson and Mr Johnson had held talks over measures to improve London’s air quality.
He said: “In the last month I have had no such meetings, but my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has met the Mayor to discuss this issue.â€?