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Commission cracks down on dirty London air

June 3, 2010 1:00 PM

The European Commission has today cracked down on the UK's failure to comply with EU clean air standards in London for pollution from diesel vehicles, power plants and factories. This could lead to a European Court judgement and a fine.

London Liberal Democrat MEP Sarah Ludford, a long-time campaigner for cleaner air in the capital, said:

"This is a legacy of 13 years of Labour government as well as Labour and Tory Mayors. They have jointly failed to take effective action to reduce dangerous airborne particles, and this lax attitude to a health emergency has been a betrayal of Londoners."

"These nasty particles can cause asthma, heart disease and lung cancer. Recent research revealed that poor air quality in London could be responsible for up to 8,000 premature deaths a year."

"I heartily welcome the new LibDem-Conservative coalition government's pledge to work towards full compliance with European air quality standards. No one wants money down the drain on European court fines, so let's get to work to clean up London's air!"

Sarah has long campaigned on improving London's bad air quality. In February of this year she and her London Liberal Democrat colleagues Ed Davey MP and Mike Tuffrey AM sent incoming environment commissioner Janez Potočnik a letter demanding that he make enforcing the EU's strict air quality standards in London the first item on his 'to-do list'. She has also been active in the campaign against the 3rd Heathrow runway and expansion of London City Airport, highlighting how this would only worsen London's air quality problem.

ENDS

Note to Editors

1. In May 2009 the United Kingdom applied for the first time to the Commission for a time extension regarding its 'PM10' dirty particles clean-up obligations. Due to a lack of adequate plans to reduce the dangerously high levels in the Greater London area in particular, a requirement for gaining such a time extension, in December 2009 the European Commission rejected the UK's request. The Labour government, just a few days before the General Election, reapplied for a time extension, which is now under assessment by the European Commission. But the Commission has anyway decided, since London remains in breach of European PM10 limits, to push ahead with legal action against the UK.

2. This final written warning or 'reasoned opinion', is the second stage of the Commission's infringement procedure against a member state. The Commission issued the United Kingdom with a first written warning, or letter of formal notice, on 29 January 2009. If the United Kingdom doesn't provide a satisfactory response to this final warning then the Commission may be forced to refer the United Kingdom to the European Court of Justice, where the UK could be faced with large fines.