CROYDON COMMENTARY: Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, wants to introduce a set of wide-ranging policies to improve the city’s air quality, including extra charges for older vehicles and an ultra-low emissions zone,and PETER UNDERWOOD says it is none too soon
Thousands of Londoners die every year due to air pollution.
The filthy air that our children are forced to breathe in our streets and around their schools permanently damages their lungs. Action to clean up London’s air is vitally important and long overdue.
Over 60 per cent of Nitrous Oxide emissions are from transport and so we support efforts to cut down on polluting vehicles and incentivise cleaner alternatives. For example, increasing the congestion charge on more polluting vehicles and widening the area covered should be accompanied by improvements to public transport and measures to make cycling and walking safer and easier.
We would also call on the Mayor of London to tackle other factors that will make London’s air worse, such as the waste incinerator in Beddington and airport expansion plans.
In response to these proposals we will no doubt get the usual bleating that any change is “bad for business” or it will “make life difficult”. Indeed, Steve O’Connell, the Conservative London Assembly Member for Croydon and Sutton, responded to the Mayor’s proposals by saying that it “is a blunt tool that will be very bad indeed for small business and potentially difficult for many Londoners”.
Well, it is estimated that air pollution already costs London £3.7 billion a year and I can certainly put up with a little inconvenience in my journey if it means I can live my life without having difficulty just breathing.
In the 1950s and 1960s, the Clean Air Acts produced the necessary changes to get rid of dirty coal and end the peasoupers that claimed thousands of lives.
We need now to take the next step to get rid of the invisible killers produced by London’s polluting vehicles.
- Peter Underwood, pictured right, is the chair of Croydon and Sutton Green Party
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