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Ministers risking London’s health by delays to tackling toxic air, warns Sadiq Khan


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inisters have been accused of risking Londoners’ health by “kicking the can down the road” on tackling toxic air.

Mayor Sadiq Khan slammed the Government for setting a target of only 2040 to cut tiny PM2.5 particulate pollution which is particularly harmful to human health.

He spoke out after the Standard told how ministers have reneged on a pledge not to water down environmental standards after Brexit.

The European Union planned target on PM2.5 pollution is 2030, a decade earlier than the current proposal from the UK Government.

The delay has been criticised by the Government’s own watchdog, the Office for Environmental Protection, which also stressed that it had failed to announce new eco-targets as it should have done under the Environment Act 2021.

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Mr Khan tweeted: “The new Govt air quality targets are too weak and condemn another generation to at least 18 more years of dirty air.

“You can’t kick the can down the road when it comes to people’s health.

“We’re working hard to clean up London’s toxic air—the Govt needs to step up.”

However, some Tory MPs including Nickie Aiken, Cities of London and Westminster, believe City Hall and the boroughs also need to do more to reduce air pollution.

The Government is proposing an annual mean concentration target for PM2.5 of no more than 10 micrograms per cubic metre (µg m-3) to be met across England by 2040.

The European Union has laid out plans for this goal to be reached by 2030.

Clean air lawyer Katie Nield, from the ClientEarth charity, said: “As it stands, yet another generation of children will be failed by governmental lethargy on tackling air pollution.

“Ministers need to seriously reconsider their proposal and commit to a 2030 deadline, in line with what the science says is possible and the world’s top health experts say is acceptable.”

Scientists stress that toxic air from fine particulate PM2.5 matter, which is far smaller than the width of human hair, is so harmful as it can seep deep into people’s lungs and into their bloodstream, contributing to heart disease and breathing illnesses.

It comes from road traffic, industrial emissions, use of non-smokeless fuels for heating, bonfires and other sources.

A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “Our evidence shows that with the appropriate action, we can drive down PM2.5 to below 10 micrograms in most of the country by 2030. We have proposed targets for 2040 because this is when our evidence shows this can be achieved everywhere, whilst avoiding placing disproportionate costs on individuals and businesses.”

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