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London mayoral candidates voice air quality ambitions

Sadiq Khan and Zac Goldsmith’s plans for air quality in the capital laid out at annual EIC Conference

London mayoral candidates Sadiq Khan and Zac Goldsmith have put forward their stance on air quality in the capital – despite neither of the nominees pitching their policies in person.

The Labour and Conservative candidates’ visions for a ‘cleaner London’ were delivered at the Environmental Industries Commission’s annual conference in Bank yesterday (November 19).

Barry Gardiner representing mayor hopeful Sadiq Khan at the EIC Conference yesterday

Barry Gardiner representing mayor hopeful Sadiq Khan at the EIC Conference yesterday

Mr Goldsmith, who hopes to follow Boris Johnson as the next Conservative mayor, gave a brief video address to the conference suggesting he wanted to see “cleaner vehicle technology” and a plan to make resource efficiency a priority.

And, shadow energy and climate change minister Barry Gardiner gave an insight into how Mr Khan would improve air quality in the city on behalf of the Labour hopeful.

Addressing the conference from the podium, he said: “London’s toxic air has so far this year resulted in 2,739 deaths. That is not a legacy we should be happy with and it is certainly not a legacy Sadiq will accept as mayor.”

Mr Gardiner went on to suggest Mr Khan would ‘reset’ the city’s green agenda – with support for start ups and more green spaces as well as “better access to nature”. He said the Labour candidate would make way for the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street and introduce ‘car free weekends’ in London similar to models adopted by other cities.

Record

The politician was also critical of Mr Johnson’s record on air quality in London, attacking the ‘Boris buses’ and the revelation that the new routemaster models had not been emissions tested.

In August, Transport for London admitted that 80 of the new electric-diesel hybrid buses had been running solely on diesel generators rather than electric power due to problems with the batteries (see airqualitynews.com story).

Mr Gardiner said: “Sadiq will cut out diesel buses to make way for cleaner buses, ones with working cells this time. He wants to be the greenest mayor ever.”

He also referenced two primary schools on roads within Mr Johnson’s Uxbridge constituency where ‘carcinogenic air pollution’ was twice the London limit.

However, a member of the delegation pointed out that one of the aforementioned schools – Pinkwell primary school– lay within a Labour-run constituency boundary.

‘Indifference’

Mr Gardiner was also confronted by the Telegraph’s contributing environment editor Geoffrey Lean, who called Labour out on the Party’s “staggering indifference” towards air quality while it was in power.

The London mayoral elections will take place in May 2016, with other runners including Sian Berry of the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats’ Caroline Pidgeon.

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