London council seeking greater powers over air quality

A London local authority is calling for additional powers to be granted to councils in the capital to address air pollution from combustion of solid fuels and other sources.

City of London Corporation — the local authority covering London’s Square Mile has drafted proposals for new ‘adoptive powers’ for London councils, which it may seek to promote to Westminster politicians via a Private Members Bill in Parliament.

Campaigners tackling engine idling in London – City of London council is calling for greater penalties to address engine idling

A spokesperson for the City of London Corporation said: “These draft proposals for a private members’ Bill have been considered by the Port Health and Environmental Services Committee.

“A final decision will be made by the Policy and Resources Committee on 15 November.”

Tabled as an ‘Emission Reduction Bill’ City of London’s proposals would give local authorities power to designate ‘Air Quality Improvement Areas’ where air pollution exceeds World Health Organisation air quality guidelines.

Within these areas, local authorities could take action on air pollution from appliances gas and solid fuel boilers under 1 Megawatt in size, which currently fall outside of the remit of the Medium Combustion Plant Directive.


City of London also recommends that emission limits are set for non-road mobile machinery, with enforcement action to be taken if these are exceeded within Air Quality Improvement Areas.

The proposals would also prohibit the installation of stationary generators with a rated thermal input of less than 1 megawatt unless the amount of NOx and PM emitted was below a limit to be set by the Secretary of State. The installation of a stationary generator in contravention of this provision would be an offence.

For existing generators it is proposed that their operation during specified periods would be prohibited, except in an emergency.

Further limits on NOx and PM from solid fuel boilers would also need to be met in order to be approved for installation within these areas, City of London proposes.

Additionally, the City Corporation is calling for increased penalties for vehicle engine idling of up to £100.


Should councillors approve the motion at Thursday’s meeting, the authority may take the proposals forward to the Department of the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Greater London Authority and other London Boroughs.

A spokesperson for Defra said: “Air pollution is the top environmental risk to human health in the UK, and while air quality has improved significantly since 2010, we recognise there is more to do.

“This is why we have provided over £250 million for local authorities, including £86 million specifically for London to help develop and implement air quality improvement plans, put in place a £3.5bn plan to reduce harmful emissions from road transport and consulted on an ambitious Clean Air Strategy which has been commended by the World Health Organization. Our upcoming Environment Bill will include further provisions to improve air quality.”


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