Air Pollution plans try to clean up the dirtiest city in Europe

London has the worst air pollution of any European city, causing around 3500 deaths per year

The mayor has launched an Air Pollution Action Plan just days after it was announced that 3500 Londoners are dying of emissions-related diseases every year.

A cross-party committee of MPs is calling for a major rethink in road transport policy to deal with the problem.

While heavy industry is the largest air polluter in the UK, the location of industries away from urban centres means that dense motor traffic in cities causes 70% of urban pollution, causing 50,000 premature deaths per year in the UK.

The report from the parliamentary Environmental Action Committee says, "Some policies require significant behavioural change, such as a modal shift away from private vehicle use." (p15)

Air pollution from ozone, particulate matter and nitrous oxides has been linked to asthma, chronic bronchitis, heart and circulatory disease, as well as cancer.

London has the worst record for nitrogen oxide pollutants among European capitals and one of the worst for airborne particles

The UK could face fines of up to £300 million pounds from the EU if it fails to achieve emissions targets.

Mayor Boris Johnson suspended the Phase 3 expansion of the Low Emissions Zone (LEZ), which was due to come into force in October 2010, affecting light good vehicles and vans. The move was considered too expensive for small businesses during the recession.

The mayor also scrapped half-yearly emissions tests for black cabs in 2008, in line with an election manifesto promise, despite the fact that according to Transport for London's own figures taxis are some of the worst polluters in the city.

Along with other measures, the Air Quality Action Plan proposes the introduction of Phase 3 of the LEZ by 2012, power-washing dirty streets, and low-emissions buses for the worst-polluted routes.