Air pollution row: Sadiq Khan cracks whip on wood-burning stoves

Purvai Dua

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Just days after City Hall issued a ‘high alert’ for the rising air pollution levels in the city, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has now written to the environment secretary to call for a ban on wood burning stoves in some urban areas to improve the situation.

Khan has written to Michael Gove, the environment secretary, to request extra powers to tackle air pollution not caused by traffic, BBC stated.

To combat the situation, Khan wants to implement a network of “zero-emission zones” where the burning of wood or coal will be completely prohibited. Khan also wants tougher controls on the sale of wood-burning stoves, which are extremely popular in the south-east England area.

It is estimated that between a quarter and a third of all of London’s fine-particle pollution comes from domestic wood burning. According to a research by King’s College London, wood burning contributed to the high air pollution as reported in January this year.

Under the mayor’s new proposals, only low-emission versions of wood-burning stoves would be allowed to remain on the market. Talking about this, Khan said: “With more than 400 schools located in areas exceeding legal pollution levels, and such significant health impacts on our most vulnerable communities, we cannot wait any longer, and I am calling on government to provide the capital with the necessary powers to effectively tackle harmful emissions from a variety of sources.”

Confirming this, a spokesperson from Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) told Guardian: “We are determined to improve air quality and have put in place a £3bn plan to reduce roadside emissions. Next year we will publish a comprehensive Clean Air Strategy which will address all sources of air pollution.”

Earlier this week, Khan had triggered emergency air quality alert when he had tweeted: “London: the shocking and illegal state of our toxic air means another high air pollution alert.” This alert was for the seventh time in thirteen months.

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