UK local authorities and the City of London Corporation urgently need tough new powers to tackle air pollution caused by boilers, construction machinery and generators, a debate in the House of Lords heard yesterday.
The call comes after Greater London Authority figuresrevealed that in 2019 there were 119,000 people in London – including 21,000 children – living in areas exceeding the legal limit for NO2.
The research shows 99% of people in the capital are living in areas exceeding the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended PM2.5 guidelines, and 98% of state primary and secondary schools are located in areas exceeding the same limits.
Proposals for new powers, drawn up by the City Corporation and London Councils, and backed by the Green Party’s Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb and Clean Air in London, were introduced as an amendment to the Environment Bill by Lord Tope, Liberal Democrat Peer and Co-President of London Councils.
The Environment Bill proposes new air quality obligations for local authorities, but it doesn’t confer any new regulatory powers on Councils to combat non-transport related pollution.
The new amendment would allow councils to designate ‘Air Quality Improvement Areas’ in their most polluted zones, where levels of air pollution exceed national targets or WHO air quality guidelines.
In these areas, the governing bodies would be given powers to apply a range of restrictions to be set out in new Regulations to be made by the Secretary of State.
Such restrictions would limit the use of the most polluting plant, such as gas boilers, solid fuel boilers, combined heat cooling and power plant, and stationary generators.
Co-President of London Councils, Lord Tope, said: “With these new powers the UK’s local authorities could target non-traffic-based emissions and cut air pollution across the country.
“Air pollution is a serious public health crisis and cleaning up toxic air has to be a major priority.
“These plans will give councils a real shot in the arm and help them take a significant step towards cleaner air.”