This post was first published by Croydon Advertiser on 19/06/2017.
Why diesel drivers in Croydon and London are being urged to leave their cars at home this week
Diesel drivers across Croydon and the rest of London are being urged to leave their vehicles at home this week.
Clean air experts say that the recent hot weather, with low winds and no rain, is causing air pollution to gather over the capital.
Levels of ozone and particulates – the tiny particles in fumes – are rising due to the long period of stable high pressure and warm weather, which is expected to last for the rest of the week.
Both ozone and particulates are particularly harmful to children’s developing lungs, asthma sufferers and the elderly.
He said: “Please don’t drive a diesel in London this week, especially Monday, unless essential. It would worsen a nasty ozone and particulate air pollution episode.”
His message was backed by Croydon councillor Sean Fitzsimons, who tweeted: “No diesels should be driven on Monday unless absolutely necessary.”
A forecast by King’s College’s environmental research group – which monitors air pollution in the capital – says ozone levels will be above average particularly in suburban and outer-London locations, such as Croydon.
Streets in London, including those in Croydon, breach legal limits for air pollutants several times a year.
Clean air campaigners have twice taken the Government to court for its failure to draw up an air pollution action plan after it was criticised by the European Union for failing to do enough to tackle illegal levels of air pollution in the capital.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has already mooted the possibility of banning diesel cars from London in an effort to tackle the city’s air pollution problem, while the Government has been urged to bring forward a scrappage scheme.
In 2001, the then Labour Government brought in tax incentives for people to buy diesel vehicles – because they emit less carbon dioxide.
But research since shows that though diesels are more fuel efficient, they emit higher levels of particulates and nitrogen dioxide, one of the chief air pollutants in the capital.
If particulate air pollution were eliminated in Croydon, it would boost life expectancy in the borough by more years than stamping out passive smoking or road traffic collisions, according to experts.
The borough is among the worst 25 per cent of local authorities in the country when it comes to pollution-related deaths.
In February, a council scrutiny committee looking at air pollution in the borough heard that banning bonfires, restrictions on wood burning stoves and fining motorists with idling engines are all methods that could be used to tackle the problem, which has been described as an “invisible health epidemic”.