London Mayor Sadiq Khan has insisted that the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union must not allow the government to shy away from the challenge of cleaning up the capital’s air pollution.
Fears have been expressed by environmentalists that the government will now seek to water down EU air quality standards (see airqualitynews.com story ).
Mr Khan has indicated that he will keep up pressure on the government to clean up the capital’s air well before 2025.
A spokesman for the Mayor’s Office said: “The Mayor has been clear that cleaning up the air is London’s biggest environmental challenge.
“The European Union provides the legal framework, which protects Londoners’ right to clean air. Only last year the Supreme Court used EU law to force the executive to do more to tackle air pollution more quickly.
“The Mayor will be strongly lobbying government to make sure Brexit isn’t used as an excuse to weaken existing standards and delay taking the bold action needed to improve air quality. He will shortly launch a formal policy consultation on a major package of measures to tackle air pollution in London.â€?
Following last week’s EU referendum result, environmental law group ClientEarth has confirmed that its action against the government, to be heard in October for breaches of European air quality standards, will still go ahead.
Last year the firm won its case at the Supreme Court, which ordered ministers to draw up new anti-pollution plans to ensure compliance.
However, the government’s new strategy to tackle air pollution in London by 2025 led to the renewed court action, having been branded ‘inadequate’ by ClientEarth.
Prior to last week’s EU referendum result, the Mayor’s air quality advisor Elliot Treharne had claimed “exciting timesâ€? were ahead in the battle to tackle air pollution in the city.
Mr Treharne said the mayor believes he has a clear mandate to bring air pollution under control (see airqualitynews story).
The Mayor’s proposed package of measures for tackling air pollution includes the potential for early introduction of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone to begin earlier than 2020, as well as potentially extending its reach to the North and South Circular road.