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Cleaning up our air? Why has David Burrowes done a U-turn?
19 Apr 2017 23:13 #2987

Basil Clarke Basil Clarke's Avatar Topic Author

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Against a background of ever increasing evidence about the toxic effects of vehicle exhaust fumes, and in particular those produced by diesel engines, Enfield Southgate MP David Burrowes has seemingly abandoned his quest to see that his constituents are not left out of measures to tackle air quality.

Mr Burrowes has reversed his policy on the question of whether or not to extend the Ultra Low Emission Zone. His position as stated in the local press last week is that it should not be extended beyond the current central London Congestion Zone. This is radically different to what he was saying in January, when he was reportedly lobbying for the zone to go all the way to the North Circular Road.

Why this complete U-turn? Has he held another "referendum" of his constitutents to find out what they want? If so, I didn't get a card.

AN Enfield MP is lobbying the mayor of London to extend the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) from central London to the North Circular and help clean up the air for his constituents.


Mr Burrowes, MP for Enfield Southgate, said:

“This issue is of great importance to my constituents as many reside near the busy North Circular Road, which has some of the worst air quality levels in London.

“I will be pressing the Mayor to ensure that the proposals benefit outer London, not only central London. Research shows that the most deprived communities are on average exposed to 25 per cent higher levels of air pollution.

“This is a matter of health inequalities and my constituents should not be left out.”

Source: www.enfield-today.co.uk/article.cfm?id=116479&headline=Enfield%20MP%20joins%20the%20fight%20against%20road%20pollution§ionIs=news&searchyear=2017

However, last week Mr Burrowes was quoted as follows:

MP for Enfield Southgate, David Burrowes, warned that a blanket implementation of proposed extensions to the north circular would only deliver “marginal improvements” in air quality.

He said: “I welcome the implementation of the ULEZ but not the proposed extension to the North and South Circular of Outer London.

“It would not provide a positive impact on air quality or value for money.

“However, air pollution is a serious problem for my constituents in the North Circular area, demanding more action. I therefore welcome more effective measures which target hotspot areas.”

Source: www.enfield-today.co.uk/article.cfm?id=118497&headline="Toxin%20taxes"%20could%20be%20extended%20to%20the%20North%20Circular%20in%20three%20years%27%20time§ionIs=news&searchyear=2017

This is a complete reversal of his previous stance. Furthermore, the reasoning given doesn't stand up to even the slightest scrutiny.

Why "only marginal improvements"? Why no "positive impact"? These comments defy logic. The area within the North and South Circular roads is several times larger than the Congestion Zone, as is the number of vehicles driving within it. An expanded ULEZ would prompt many people currently driving in that zone to switch to cleaner vehicles or to choose not to drive in it. Furthermore, many of those cleaner vehicles would also be driven in the area outside it, including Mr Burrowes' own constituency. There would undoubtedly be a significant improvement in air quality (though still nothing like the improvement that we need).

"Air pollution is a serious problem for my constituents in the North Circular area". I couldn't agree more. Obviously, if the ULEZ only went as far as but didn't include the North Circular, there would still be some of the dirtiest vehicles driving along it, but there would be fewer of them because some of those drivers would wish to travel to destinations south of the North Circular.

"I therefore welcome more effective measures which target hotspot areas." What this means is completely unclear. The Mayor of London's own move to remove the most polluting buses from certain main roads in London which are "hotspots" is itself of dubious worth because what the bus companies have done is to swap buses between routes, meaning that routes that previously had newer and cleaner buses now have older and dirtier ones. So the overall effect has been to redistribute the pollution. Which is what Mr Burrowes's suggestions would do, because drivers of dirty cars would simply take diversions to avoid those areas and thus increase pollution along the diversion routes.

"Value for money": Whose money, paying for what? I pay taxes in the hope that the money will be used to protect me from various dangers, including toxic air. Instead, I discover that it is being used to secretly subsidise fossil fuel producers who are helping destroy our environment - see "Fossil fuel firms' multi-billion-pound state subsidies revealed in accidentally leaked secret files" t.co/1ZdPJkb4TV . A cool £6.9 billion.

I sympathise with owners of dirty vehicles who will have to pay for replacements, as they were misled about the differences between petrol and diesel. There definitely should be a government-funded scrappage scheme, as governments - Labour, Coalition and Conservative alike - bear much responsibility for the present disastrous situation. But even more guilty are the car manufacturers. Guilty not just of deliberately deceiving purchasers of their cars, but of deceiving and causing damage to the health of the entire population of the countries that those cars were sold in, drivers and non-drivers alike. They should be paying enormous fines to the governments of those countries, to be spent on diesel car scrappage, health services and measures to improve air quality. But what is more important? The economics of driving or the health of London's people?

So why has Mr Burrowes changed his tune so drastically? Has he forgotten the children at Bowes School and the "most deprived communities" - the ones exposed to the most pollution, but least likely to be driving huge diesel-powered cars?

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