A step backwards for Spain’s fight against air pollution?

land remediation expo blog post 1

According to reports from Spain, there is talk of scrapping the urban low-emission zone in Madrid.

A quote from the Popular Party, who will potentially govern Madrid, say that air pollution “is a sign [of the] identity of our city, that the street is always alive.” This is worrying seeing that over 30,000 Spaniards die every year due to air pollution according to the European Environment Agency.

The move to scrap Madrid Central (the low emission zone) will be the first time a major European city has turned its back on a clean air reform; despite the impressive change in air quality it has delivered in the short amount of time it has been around. 

Since it was launched in November 2018, the Madrid Central air quality reform has seen a drop in urban traffic by 24%, carbon dioxide by 14%, and nitrogen oxide by 38% — something that has been celebrated by city centre residents according to Ecologists in Action campaign group.

Admittedly, the UK, and London in particular, are not perfect when it comes to air pollution. But they are investing heavily to turn this around. The introduction of the ultra-low emission zone (Ulez) in London this year confirms the move towards ‘cleaner’ air for the people of London. The scheme will impose a £12.50-a-day charge to people wanting to drive into central London in all but the cleanest vehicles and cars, which is expected to reduce road transport emissions by 45%.

The UK, Spain, and even the EU must all be reminded that although emissions of many air pollutants have decreased substantially over the past decades, concentrations are still too high; with air quality issues persisting. A significant number of the European population live in areas and cities where the levels of carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and particulate matter (PM) pollution exceed EU air quality standards. This has meant that several countries have exceeded one or more of their 2010 emission limits for four important air pollutants. Therefore low emission zones and reducing air pollution should be promoted, and not scrapped in Madrid’s case.

Such is the City of London’s commitment to addressing air pollution, they will be sending their Air Quality Officer, Beth Humphrey, to the Contamination Expo to deliver a keynote seminar. Beth’s seminar will discuss the air quality in the square mile in the City of London and will offer an overview of the actions the city is taking to be in line with its new Air Quality Strategy.

Beth commented: “This Expo provides a platform to raise awareness of the need for understanding air quality issues, of the importance of working collaboratively to improve air pollution, and of the actions being taken in the heart of London.”

The Contamination Expo is the World’s premier event for Europe's leading event for over 6000 of the industry’s leading contamination and geotechnical professionals.