Proposals launched to tackle non-transport air pollution in London

New proposals will be introduced that could see London’s local authorities get increased powers to tackle air pollution from construction machinery, boilers and diesel generators.

The Emissions Reduction (Local Authorities in London) Bill will be introduced in the House of Lords today (October 22) by Lord Tope, Liberal Democrat Peer and co-president of London Councils.

The City of London Corporation and London Councils, the local government associated for Greater London, says it’s necessary as data from the Greater London Authority (GLA) says that air pollution from non-traffic sources will exceed that from vehicles in the centre of London by 2020.

Under the Bill, local authorities who opted in would be able to designate ‘Air Quality Improvement Areas’ in the most polluted zones, where levels of air pollution exceeded World Health Organisation (WHO) air quality guidelines.

In these areas, the installation of new ‘combustion plant’ machinery, which includes gas boilers, solid fuel boilers, combined heat cooling and power plant, and stationery generators would only be permitted if the amount of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) emitted by the plant did not exceed a limit set by the Secretary of State.

London Councils says the Clean Air Act 1993, which has historically been used by local authorities to deal with sources of air pollution other than road traffic, is outdated, not fit for modern fuels and technologies, and offers very few powers that are of use today.

The local authority could also ban the use of stationary diesel generators other than in an emergency when existing levels of air pollution are high. New restrictions would also be available to limit the use of construction machinery which did not meet an emissions limit.

The limits imposed would not affect current appliances, ensuring that existing owners would not be disadvantaged by the restrictions.

The Bill also includes an increase in the fine for drivers who leave their engines idling when parked from £20 to £100, to provide a more effective deterrent.

Lord Tope, Liberal Democrat peer and co-president of London Councils, said: ‘By adopting a collaborative approach, London’s local authorities can effectively target non-traffic-based emissions and bring down air pollution on our streets.

‘Cleaning up toxic air has to be one of the most important priorities for the public health of Londoners.

‘These plans will give the capital’s councils a real shot in the arm and help them take a significant step towards cleaner air.’

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