Around 2 million Londoners, including many renters, live in areas which exceed legal limits for air pollution, fresh figures show.
The data from the London Atmospheric Emission Inventory (LAEI) has been published by London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, who this morning launched the new Ultra-Low Emission Zone in the capital.
The research reveals that between 2013 and 2016, which is the most recent year of data, there were no significant improvements in nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentrations in London’s air, with some areas getting worse.
Researchers from King’s College London believe that if the ‘trend of inaction’ seen between 2010 and 2016 continued it would take 193 years to reach legal compliance on air quality.
To help reduce toxic air in the capital, the ultra-low emission zone, or Ulez, has been launched today, imposing a £12.50-a-day charge to drive into central London in all but the cleanest cars and vans.
The charge will be levied inside London’s congestion charge zone around the clock, and motorists driving polluting cars during the daytime will have to pay both charges, meaning it will cost £24 to take such vehicles into central London between 7am and 6pm.
The move is expected to reduce road transport emissions by around 45%.
A bigger improvement could come in October 2021, when the Ulez is due to be extended to all areas inside the North and South Circular roads. That enlargement will bring around 640,000 vehicles into the zone, around 135,000 of which will be liable for the charge.
Other cities including Birmingham and Leeds have said they will introduce clean air zones in 2020, and Manchester plans to follow suit.
But it is not just cars that is having an adverse impact on air quality.
It is estimated that buildings produce nearly half of this country’s carbon emissions - almost double that of cars and planes.
The way a residential building is constructed, insulated, heated, ventilated and the type of fuel used, all contribute to its carbon emissions, and can now seriously impact on the cost of running the property and even its value.
The introduction of Energy Performance Certificates in 2008, were designed to improve the energy efficiency of buildings, and yet most homes still rank poorly.
The changing attitude towards tacking air quality suggests that many homeowners and property investors could reap significant competitive advantages by shifting to a ‘green’ model of potentially adding value to a home, which is creating an appetite for innovation in areas like renewable power in the home.
Mark Hayward, chief executive, NAEA Propertymark, commented: “People are spending longer than ever in their homes, and as such they’re becoming more particular about where they buy.
“Air quality is on people’s minds with the ULEZ being introduced, particularly those house buyers who have a young family to raise, and it’s important for them to do so in a good environment. Therefore, air pollution levels will increasingly play an important part in their decision making process.”