London breaks EU air quality rules in just days

In 2016 Putney High St was the first site to exceed the legal threshold just eight days into the new year. In 2015, Oxford St set the record of just two days.

Preliminary figures from Kings College London seem to indicate that over 60 per cent of the 97 monitoring sites across London exceeded legal annual limits for 2016. It is accepted that most main roads in London regularly breach legal levels for nitrogen dioxide with three quarters of the monitoring stations recording nitrogen dioxide exceedances in 2015.

Despite these rather grim headline figures for the capital research carried out by Kings College published in the Journal of Environmental Pollution in September shows that London air pollution policies are starting to have an impact with an overall improvement in air quality.

When looking at nitrogen dioxide the research found that between 2005 and 2009 levels along London’s roads increased by an average of 11 per cent per year. This increase is attributed to increasing numbers of diesel coaches and buses along with suspect Euro class standards as real time emissions failed to reflect factory tests.

After 2010 fitting new exhaust clean-up technology to older buses began to curb nitrogen dioxide levels to the point where levels decreased on average by five per cent a year between 2010 and 2014.

Overall the authors of the report concluded that a multitude of London wide and local air quality initiatives aimed at tackling traffic pollution are having an impact.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has promised to introduce a bigger ultra-low emission zone in 2019 while deploying the cleanest buses on the most polluted routes.

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