Euro MP Jean Lambert has today warned that Londoners health will be put at serious risk for the foreseeable future, if the European Parliament votes to water down current laws on air quality, possibly delaying targets by up to 12 years, tomorrow.
With air quality in breach of current EU standards in many parts of the UK, some of the worst areas being in London, the European Commission may avoid taking legal action against the British Government by extending the time limit to meet such targets.
Jean, who is London's Green MEP and earlier this year confronted the Commission on the Capital's failing air quality, said that weakening the directive would be completely irresponsible and against our rights to breath clean air. Speaking before the European Parliament debate on the subject today Jean commented; "Current levels of air pollution across the EU, particularly in London where air quality levels have been breaking EU laws for several months, has caused severe health impacts resulting in 36,000 premature deaths each year. If the possibility to apply for postponements is introduced these numbers will inevitably rise.
"We all have an equal right to live in clean air and with the limits having been included in EU law since 1999 the British Government has had long enough to take action. A Low Emissions Zone is a step in the right direction but it simply will not have a big enough impact to meet the original EU targets. The Commission simply cant change the law just to let everyone off the hook and avoid a legal fight."
Earlier this year Jean Lambert received confirmation from the EU Commission that London's air quality is in breech of EU standards after tabling a Priority Written Question on the matter.
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Notes to editors:
Jean Lambert: In October 2005 Jean was named MEP 2005 for Justice and Human Rights. Jean was first elected Green Party Member of the European Parliament for London in the 1999 European elections. She was re-elected in 2004. She is one of nine MEPs representing London and one of two UK Green representatives in the European Parliament.