Air Quality in London
24 November 2009
Most air quality standards are expressed in terms of limit values. The limit values for PM10 particulates and NO2 (nitrogen dioxide) and for many other air pollutants were brought together in a consolidate Directive 2008/50/EC on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe.
The UK is one of the 27 Member States in Europe that has struggled to meet legally binding air quality standards, and it continues to experience 'hotspots' or in air quality legislative language 'exceedances' especially in areas such as London, which is a case study for the operation of air quality legislation.
In April 2009, the UK, seeking to avoid fines for non compliance with air quality legislation applied to the Commission for more time to meet PM10 limit values for eight UK zones or agglomerations. The Commission asked for further information, including an air quality study in London.
In October 2009 the Mayor of London published a draft Air Quality Strategy, which promised a number of steps to address continued breaches in particular of PM10 and NO2 standards. The problem is that some of the measures proposed are unfunded, and will depend upon central government funding to enter into effect, while others such as the deferred extension of the Low Emissions Zone from 2009 to 2012 (to save costs on small business) run the risk of infraction proceedings being brought against the UK by the European Commission.
Air Quality legislation demands a particular result, keeping air pollutant levels below specific limit values. The problem that many EU governments are experiencing is that the powers to take action over air quality are complex, and shared with a variety of devolved administrations, including in this case the Mayor of London. It is not an academic debate, as air quality in London is known to result in several thousand premature deaths, even with the improvements since the 1950s.
For further information on air quality issues, please contact William Wilson on +44 (0)117 939 2289 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
William has in depth experience of air quality legislation, having managed Part IV of the Environment Act 1995 and drafted regulations to implement the Air Quality Framework Directive and the First, Second and Third Daughter Directives.