New data shows London air pollution hotspots

New figures revealed today show London is still blighted by levels of pollution three times higher than the legal limit. This news comes a year to the day since ClientEarth won its legal battle over air pollution against the UK government.

On 29 April 2015 the Supreme Court ordered the government to produce new plans that would bring down the UK’s illegal air pollution as soon as possible.

In the 12 months since the verdict, despite ClientEarth’s legal victory over the government, which led to an unprecedented order by the UK’s highest court, air pollution has stagnated in the country’s most polluted city.

Yesterday a Judge at the High Court granted ClientEarth’s request to pursue a Judicial Review against the UK government over its continued failure to tackle illegal levels of air pollution.

Shocking new data show that levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) on London’s top most polluted streets according to official monitoring stations in the first three months of this year averaged up to 133µg/m3. The legal level for the year is an average of 40µg/m3.

NO2 is a damaging gas which, when found in towns and cities, comes mostly from diesel vehicles.

It is known to make lung and heart conditions worse and contribute to thousands of premature deaths every year.

Alan Andrews, lawyer for environmental law organisation, ClientEarth, said: “The government is dragging its feet whilst Londoners are choking on dangerously polluted air. It’s now been an entire year since the Supreme Court ordered the government to act but we still find ourselves with toxic levels of air pollution.

“You have to doubt the government’s commitment to protecting the British people from harmful air pollution when this is their response to a public health crisis. The plans they have come up with are woeful and even by their own admission will not bring pollution down to legal levels until 2025.”

ClientEarth has called for a national network of clean air zones, which would get the dirtiest diesel vehicles out of our towns and cities. The government’s plans suggested they would consult on just five zones, which vary in terms of which vehicles they cover. A year on from the Supreme Court verdict, there has been no more action on these zones.

London’s highest pollution areas by NO2 concentration level

NB: EU annual limit is average of 40 micrograms per cubic metre (ug/m3)
Time period: 1 January – 27 April 2016

Monitoring sites

Average NO2 concentration levels


Wandsworth – Putney High Street


Lambeth – Brixton Road


Westminster – Oxford Street


City of London – Walbrook Wharf


Camden – Holborn (in midtown)


Camden – Euston Road


Kensington and Chelsea – Earls Court Rd


Westminster – Marylebone Road


City of London – Beech Street


Kensington and Chelsea – Knightsbridge


Hammersmith and Fulham – Shepherds Bush


Source: ClientEarth compilation of figures from King’s College, London.

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Paulo Valdivieso

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