London’s biggest air pollution challenge is in the suburbs, not the centre

Beyond the M25, people are more dependent on cars, and produce the most air pollution

M25 Londons largest car park

The M25 - London’s largest car park

Over three quarters of the entire south east region’s air pollution is generated in London’s suburbs, new research claims.

A team of researchers at Oxford University found that the areas just outside the M25 are where the population is most heavily dependent on private cars, and is where the majority of London’s air pollution is generated.

The extent of the problem is so large that it means the capital is highly likely to fail to meet carbon emissions reduction targets.

The team’s report, published in the Transport Policy journal revealed that in 2012, the population just outside London, of 12 million, produced 77% of all of London’s pollution.

This compares with just 23% of total pollution produced by the further eight million living within the M25.

Dr Caralampo Focas, who led the research said: “London and New York have been studied as role models for other cities in terms of land use and transport policies. Yet this approach neglects to look at the bigger picture.

“Both capital cities are surrounded by sprawling developments that extend well beyond the main urban centres where residents are heavily reliant on their cars and often have to drive to their nearest shop or other facilities.”

He added: “Neither London nor New York has a regional planning or transport authority covering the entire region. These findings suggest that policymakers should view cities in their wider regional context given this is where the greatest use of energy and greenhouse gas emissions is now concentrated.”

The research found that the average mileage per person in central London was around 7.7 miles, compared to 15.6 miles for each person living beyond the M25.

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