Polluted air assault on Marylebone

A year’s worth of harmful pollution hits Marylebone Road in just four months

IN just four months, Marylebone residents have been exposed to more than a year’s worth of harmful pollution, the Wood&Vale can reveal.

With more than eight months of the year still remaining, a monitoring station near the junction of Marylebone Road and Baker Street has already recorded 40 breaches of European Union air quality limits – the maximum number of breaches permitted is 35.

The station records air pollution from small particles known as PM10, which have links to the development of asthma and heart disease.

The European Commission (EC) has already given the UK two written warnings over its pollution levels and the next stage would be a referral to the European Court of Justice and a potential �300million fine.

But Mayor of London Boris Johnson will not face the wrath of the EC for the moment as they have given him a temporary reprieve until June to come up with a plan to reduce pollution levels.

In the meantime London is being allowed pollution levels that are 50 per cent higher than the EC target.

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Marylebone Association chairman Stephen Quinn said: “I live about 200 metres from Marylebone Road and it’s appalling. I don’t hang around the road. I stand about 20 metres away from it while I’m waiting to cross and dash across as quickly as I can. It’s a severe risk to health. It has been a problem for a long time and nothing seems to be working.

“There’s no quick fix. There will probably have to be many small measures but we have to reduce the number of cars generally in London.”

Fellow Marylebone resident and former chairman of the Marylebone Society John Falding said: “It’s probably one of the worst polluted roads in Europe and on it you have one of the world’s biggest tourist attractions [Madame Tussauds] with people queuing and breathing in pollution.

“When I’ve had visitors from the countryside here they have said ‘can’t you smell the pollution?’

“There’s very little that can be done in the short term when you have a road that’s carrying the equivalent of a motorway’s worth of traffic in London.”

Murad Qureshi, chairman of the London Assembly’s environment committee and also a Marylebone resident, said the Mayor needs to do more to improve London’s air quality which is responsible for more than 4,000 premature deaths each year.

“The Mayor has blamed European air blowing over to the UK, but what about the polluted air which blows over to Europe from the UK?” he asked. “Londoners are facing a catastrophe both financially and in health terms. Boris needs to stop the blame game and take control of this rapidly deteriorating situation.”

The Mayor’s spokeswoman says the EC’s extension until June means that the increased pollution limit allowed on Marylebone Road is 50 per cent higher than usual and therefore has only been breached six times this year.

She added that the Mayor has applied dust suppressant treatments on Marylebone Road and diverted cleaner buses into the area.

“The Mayor is already taking robust action to improve London’s air quality with cleaner buses, tougher standards for the Low Emission Zone and the first ever age limit for taxis,” she said. “However since the beginning of 2011, we estimate that more than 75 per cent of air pollution episodes have occurred when pollutants have been blown in from outside London.”