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EU legal action hugely disappointing London Mayor advisor

Matthew Pencharz, Boris Johnson’s environment advisor, defends Mayor’s air quality record

The EU’s decision to launch legal action over the UK’s failure to meet air quality standards for nitrogen dioxide is ‘hugely disappointing’, according to the London Mayor’s advisor for energy and the environment.

The European Commission announced on Thursday (February 20) that it would be taking the UK government to court over its failure to address nitrogen dioxide levels in 16 of 43 zones in the country – including London (see airqualitynews.com story).

The London Mayor's environment and energy advisor, Matthew Pencharz, has defended work to tackle air pollution in the capital

The London Mayor’s environment and energy advisor, Matthew Pencharz, has defended work to tackle air pollution in the capital

But, writing in the London Evening Standard newspaper on Friday (February 21), advisor Matthew Pencharz defended the work towards improving the capital’s air quality under Boris Johnson.

Mr Pencharz wrote that “reading the headlines you’d be forgiven for thinking we either don’t care, haven’t done anything, or aren’t planning to start nowâ€?, adding “nothing could be further from the truth.â€?

The Mayor’s advisor highlighted electric vehicle car clubs, taxi age limits, low-emission routemaster buses as well as the planned Ultra Low Emission Zone for central London for 2020 among the policies designed to tackle nitrogen dioxide pollution from traffic in London.

Mr Pencharz added that since 2008 the number of Londoners living in areas where the air does not meet EU regulations has halved, while London also meets standards for eight of the nine EU regulated pollutants.

And, he wrote that as London is ‘by far the largest city in Europe’, it was a ‘considerable achievement’ that the UK is one of only nine Member States that has met legal requirements for particulate matter PM10.

As such, he wrote that ‘given that we have done more to address this problem than any other city’, the EU’s decision to take legal action was ‘hugely disappointing’.

Furthermore, Mr Pencharz argued that part of the reason the UK does not meet nitrogen dioxide standards is partly due to the EU’s Euro 6 vehicle engine standards, which ‘have failed to reduce pollution emissions as expected and don’t work properly in urban areas’ and have helped put ‘45 million more polluting vehicles on Europe’s roads’.

He wrote: “The Commission must take action now to accelerate the roll-out of the next generation of cleaner vehicles and back the development and uptake of new ultra-low emission technologies.â€?

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John Baldwin
7 years ago

It’s easy to solve this – gas grid in every street next to bus depots, very easy to get all single dockers on CNG in 5 years. All Los Angeles 9600 buses are Cng, same in most major EU cities. Double dockers can stay diesel-hybrid for now.

Same with refuse trucks, Madrid has 650 refuse trucks on CNG

The London gas grid is a fantastic asset, it’s the way to let Londoners have clean air. No technical issues.

Roland Gilmore
7 years ago

It is a pity that Mathew has been forced to respond on Boris’ behalf rather than TfL.
The action by the ECJ was predicted years ago. The new limits to be incorporated into a revised directive this year will put London even further behind compliance.
Use of methane as a transport fuel is one of a range of measures however, it is still a fossil fuel. Recent research of the health impacts of particulate matter is leading to reassessment of levels of these contaminants that have a disproportionate effect upon children. Sampling stations need to sample from lower levels than they do now to provide more robust analysis.
Installing signs at boundaries to an Ultra Low Emission Zone will make a negligible difference other than to raise more tax from road users. Measures such as this have a disproportionate effect on poorer people who cannot afford new vehicles and therefore buy 2nd hand and the more polluting cars.
How do you intend to tackle that socio-economic problem Mathew/Boris? Are London’s roads to be only for those who can afford new, less polluting vehicles?

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