London’s air is the worst in Europe while the Government delays action

Labour Party

London has the worst air of any European capital. Despite this, the Conservative-led Coalition doesn’t plan to comply with air quality standards in legislation since 1999, set to be met by 2010, until a staggering 2025, according to the BBC.

Something needs to be done urgently in London. Air pollution cuts life expectancy in Britain by a massive eight months. The main culprit is the pollutant N02 which comes mainly from vehicles.

The Government’s refusal to act is quite simply not acceptable. Ministers know that air pollution is the second biggest public health threat after smoking. It costs the UK an estimated £20 billion a year, more than twice the amount for obesity.

N02 affects long-term health. According to the BBC, experts giving evidence to the Environment Committee, EFRA, said the health of Olympic athletes visiting over the summer should not be harmed as long as the UK avoids a heat-induced smog episode.

I find it extraordinary that there is such a huge unwillingness to tackle pollution in London. The situation is obviously very bad indeed. There is even a chance that the showcase Olympics may suffer. Those of us who live in the capital are at serious risk.

What is more, the financial cost of pollution is huge. Cleaning up are act would not only save lives, it would also save money. Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman and London Mayor Boris Johnson will, I hope, take note, though the previous track record of both these Conservatives does not give us much cause for hope.

By coming down heavily on the UK Government’s inaction, the European Commission is doing us all a massive favour. Londoner’s should be thankful that there is at least one institution which is concerned about their health.

Honeyball’s Weekly Round-Up

Labour Party

There is just one post devoted to the prevention of female genital mutilation (FGM) in Whitehall, and the government has abolished it. Campaigners said the loss of the FGM co-ordinator will undermine efforts to eradicate the practice.

Some 24,000 girls among FGM-practising minority ethnic communities in Britain are estimated to be at risk of the procedure, in which part or all of their genitalia is cut off and stitched up without anaesthetic.

The Home Office insist the work of the FGM coordinator will not end. Rather, it will continue to be carried forward by individual departments where we believe it will be better integrated.

You can read the full story here. I hope that this important role is not diluted into the work of many people and therefore the important subject forgotten about.

And The Times reported last week that almost 100,000 acres of England’s public forests will be sold regardless of the outcome of the independent review of the future of Forestry Commission land, the Government indicated yesterday.

Caroline Spelman, the environment secretary, told MPs on the Commons Environment Select Committee that sales of 15 per cent of the 638,000 acres of public forests would go ahead within the next four years to raise £100 million.

Have I missed something here? I had thought the environment secretary agreed not to sell off our forests…? I recall just a month or so ago that the government was forced into an embarrassing u-turn over its decision.

But this u-turn on the u-turn, as it were, seems to have taken place with relative ease. You can read the full story here.