Campaigners have called for the new Mayor of London to be “consistent” in his stance on tackling the East End’s filthy air.
Friends of the Earth was reacting after Sadiq Khan announced a policy consultation on Friday, May 13, focusing on pollution in the capital.
Proposed steps include extending the ultra-low emission zone (Ulez) to the north and south circulars, charging the dirtiest vehicles and investing in clean buses.
But some were left conflicted by the announcement, which came just days after City Hall removed its objection to London City Airport’s expansion.
Friends of the Earth Campaigner Sophie Neuburg said: “London’s filthy air is responsible for nearly 10,000 premature deaths a year and isn’t due to be fully cleaned up for another nine years.
“That’s why we called for the Mayor to prioritise air pollution, starting with action to make our iconic red buses greener.
“This swift plan to introduce a new ‘T charge’ for the dirtiest vehicles and to buy only clean double-decker buses is promising, and it’s great to see plans to extend the ultra-low emission zone to the north and south circular and to come in sooner.
“But it is confusing that this announcement comes in the same week that Sadiq Khan has removed a key hurdle in the expansion of City Airport which will only add to London’s dirty air woes.
“Our new Mayor needs to be consistent. It’s critical that he doesn’t reduce air pollution in one area only to increase it in another.”
The World Health Organisation recently named London as one of 10 cities and towns in the UK that breached pollution limits.
The study showed that the city breached safe levels of tiny particles known as PM10.
In the wake of this research, Mr Khan now plans to bring forward the introduction of the ultra-low emission zone to 2020 in an effort to “speed up” efforts to fight the problem.
He said: “I want to act before an emergency, which is why we need big, bold and sometimes difficult policies if London is to meet the scale of the challenge.
“I know from personal experience that the city’s air is damaging people’s health as I only recently started suffering from asthma as an adult.
“The previous Mayor was too slow on this issue and the Government has been hopelessly inactive and it’s Londoners who are suffering as a result.”
Campaigners in east London have recently been fighting the proposed Enderby Wharf cruise ship terminal and Silvertown Tunnel, which Mr Khan has pledged to review.
It is thought that the increased congestion both on the roads and the water would increase pollution to potentially dangerous levels.
Friends of the Earth campaigner Jenny Bates said that one of the most important ways to fight the issue was by not adding to the problem.
“Everybody called for the Ulez to be stronger so it is a good thing that he is proposing some sort of strengthening on that front,” she said.
“But a key plank of fighting air pollution is not adding to the problem and I think that more will need to be done.”
TfL has argued that Silvertown Tunnel would reduce air pollution overall because it would ease the number of cars stuck in traffic jams.