Mayor Khan begins on the road to free London from air pollution—starting at Aldgate
- Credit: GLA
London’s new mayor came to the East End to launch a public consultation on tough measures to tackle air pollution. Sadiq Khan revealed when he visited Aldgate’s Sir John Cass Primary school, in one of the City’s worst pollution spots, that he suffers asthma himself.
“I want to act before an emergency,” the Mayor said. “That’s why we need big, bold and sometimes difficult policies if London is to meet the scale of the challenge.”
Mayor Khan wants to extend the Ultra-Low Emission Zone for heavy goods vehicles out to the North Circular and South Circular roads, rather than just keep it to the inner congestion zone which covers only the City, West End, Southbank and parts of Whitechapel, Spitalfields and Shoreditch.
A diesel scrappage scheme is also being looked into by TfL as part of a national plan by the Government, which would include London’s double-decker buses, as well as concentrating cleaner buses on the dirtiest routes and buying only hybrid or zero-emission buses from 2018.
London currently does not meet legal EU requirements for pollutants such as Nitrogen Dioxide. Research by the World Health Organisation published only last Thursday, the day before the mayor’s visit to Aldgate, showed the metropolis has “breached safe levels” of pollutant particles.
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“I know from personal experience that the air is damaging people’s health as I recently started suffering from asthma,” Mayor Khan revealed. “Many hotspots are around schools, exposing children to polluted air and risking respiratory conditions like mine.”
He blamed the previous mayor for being “too slow on this issue” and the government for being inactive.
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London in the past has only responded to pollution after an emergency, like the Clean Air Act which followed the Great London Smogs of the 1950s, he points out. But he wants to act before any new emergency.
Sir John Cass school in Jewy Street has planted a roof garden and set up an air-monitoring station in the playground, in an area off the busy Aldgate High Street with its tower blocks restricting fresh air and its busy traffic.
Pupils are taught about the environment in lessons, plant flowers in the roof garden and have helped decorate the pollution monitoring station.