London Low-Emission Bus Zones cited as a success

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London’s Low-Emission Bus Zones have been hailed as a success after road-specific pollution limits remained intact.

The BBC reported that January air quality in London is at its best for 10 years, as it is the first time in a decade that NO2 limits for the years have not been breached within the first five days of January. However, it is still likely that the limit will be breached before the end of the month.

According to the London Evening Standard, environment experts said the change is ‘largely due to the roll out of new cleaner bus routes in the capital’s worst offending areas.’ This includes Brixton Road in south London and Putney High Street in west London.

Frank Kelly, Environmental Health Professor at King’s College London (KCL), said: “If you remove the vehicles that create the problem, pollution just disappears. It’s as simple as that. The introduction of these eco-buses in places like Putney High Street would be a main reason why we have seen an improvement.”

Under EU law, the average hourly level of NO2 must not exceed 200 micrograms per cubic metre more than 18 times in a year. So far in 2018, the limit has been exceeded eight times, whereas it took just 120 hours in 2017 to breach the annual limit.

The London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, said in December that the Putney route, which was the first to get the new buses in March, had seen a 90% reduction in hourly breaches of toxic air levels.

While the new buses appear to have had a major impact, Professor Kelly said the weather has also proved to be a contributing factor to lower levels of toxic air. He said: “When we see the very worst of levels of pollution in London it is totally down to the weather. It travels from other countries like France and contributes to it here. It’s a global problem, not just London’s.”