It would be “regrettable” if Boris influences air quality research says MP

Boris Johnson categorically denied claims he is trying to influence research into London air quality yesterday after the chair of parliament’s environment watchdog expressed her concerns. MP Joan Walley wrote to the […]

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By Vicky Ellis

Boris Johnson categorically denied claims he is trying to influence research into London air quality yesterday after the chair of parliament’s environment watchdog expressed her concerns.

MP Joan Walley wrote to the Mayor of London asking for “assurance” that Greater London Authority funding for research “will not be influenced” by the way results are presented.

Her letter threatens to reignite a dispute which began when The Times reported the Kings scientists’ fears of a veiled threat from the Mayor’s office to cut funding.

The researchers claimed Oxford Street has some of the worst pollution in the world. London has a target of slashing its greenhouse gas emissions by 60% by 2025, compared to 1990 levels.

Ms Walley, the chair of parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee wrote: “It would be regrettable if the important work of universities and others to advance our understanding of these air pollution challenges were undermined, or its results suppressed, because of fears over access to funding.”

She continued: “The challenge of tackling air pollution in our cities will need not just practical steps… but research to underpin policies.”

The claims were dismissed as “completely untrue and unfounded” by a spokesperson for the Mayor.

They said: “The Mayor’s work to assess and address London’s air quality challenge is entirely transparent. He continues to take the problem extremely seriously and is working with a wide range of stakeholders to take forward a comprehensive range of measures to reduce air pollution and protect the health of Londoners.”

A recent AMEC study commissioned by the Mayor comparing air quality in different cities found London ranked 15th out of 36 cities, or ninth best when ranking pollutants with the worst health effects.