You’re allowed 35 bad air days in London under EU rules but we just hit 36, making us the most polluted city in Europe – this is a severe embarrassment for the Mayor, who has failed to make any headway with the problem. A recent report by the House of Commons environmental audit committee included evidence that air pollution could be contributing to 50,000 deaths in the UK a year. The Mayor’s office has offered a raft of rather feeble devices including ‘dust reduction’ (I guess that would be the return of Victorian water trucks) while craftily extending the rights of vehicles in the capital.
Geographically speaking, London is a gigantic bowl with the river at its base, and bad air is trapped in when the wind drops. But the covert encouragement of cars and the end of pedestrianisation initiatives means that air quality has steadily worsened of late. The next time you visit London, blow your nose and check your hankie – the evidence is right there.