Robin Meltzer, the Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Richmond Park and North Kingston, and winner of the London Clean Air Award 2013, talks today in the Evening Standard newspaper about the high levels of air pollution in London.
"I hope the shock caused by the unusual levels of visibility of this week's pollution will lead to the ambitious policies we need.
"The Lib Dems estimate that turning London's buses, taxis and commercial LGV fleets electric would cut air pollution suffered by Londoners by 25% and NO2 emissions in Oxford Street by 65%.
"There would be a saving on the £17 billion cost of dealing with the health impacts of air pollution too."
Robin added: "I wrote the letter to the Standard because this week, we have both seen and felt the effects of air pollution in London as Saharan dust collides with our own smog-ridden air. People have fallen ill. When I went outside during the last two days, I could physically feel the pollution in my eyes and my throat. Richmond Park as a constituency has long been plagued by a huge amount of traffic on the main roads. (see www.toomuchtraffic.co.uk).
"London has a shocking record. The oldest, most polluting, diesel vehicles are jamming the streets. Diesel-fuelled vehicles such as the 8,500 London buses and 20,000 London taxis emit dangerous particles into the air.
"London is usually, even without Saharan dust, more polluted than other European capitals. High levels of pollution cause irritation to airways and lungs, and exacerbate asthma. Studies have also linked air pollution with lower lung function development in children. One study found air pollution leads to 4300 premature deaths in London per year, but this number could actually be as high as 8000.
"That's why I became a campaigner for cleaner air in London. When I learned the difference that walking through a park, and therefore walking without traffic, can have on your health compared to walking along a road just a couple of hundred metres away from that park, I was outraged. This has been hushed up for too long. This week, we have finally woken up, as a city, to what is going on.
"Thousands of people in Greater London are dying from diseases related to air pollution every year. It's time that City Hall and central government treated this problem like the public health catastrophe that it is.