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The government has reaffirmed its pledge to help reduce air pollution...
The government has reaffirmed its pledge to help reduce air pollution

on the 50th anniversary of the Great London Smog.

Air quality minister Alun Michael said air quality today had

dramatically improved since December 1952 when a thick smog enveloped

the capital.

Adverse weather conditions and high levels of smoke from domestic

coal fires combined to form the lethal smog so thick it brought

London to a virtual standstill for four days, killing 4,000 people.

The devastating event led to the introduction of the Clean Air Act in

1956 - a landmark in British environmental history.

Alun Michael marked the anniversary by visiting one of the capital's

most sophisticated air pollution monitoring sites at Marylebone Road.

He said: 'Air quality is getting better, and the number of days of

poor air quality each year continues to fall. This is as a result of

changes in the way our power is generated, cleaner fuels and

vehicles, and the move away from coal in domestic heating.

'I remember the smogs Londoners suffered as I visited the capital

most autumns as a child. They were awful. Nowadays, partly as a

result of the Clean Air Act, we are lucky to enjoy much better air


'But we need to go further. We are determined to grapple with the

challenges ahead. Air quality is one of our top priorities and we are

committed to improving people's quality of life.

'We face some tough choices. Getting people to switch from coal to

gas was relatively easily because people could see it was in their

interests. But tackling today's problems is a lot more difficult.

'Technology will continue to play a huge role. We have set ourselves

challenging targets for ultra-clean vehicles and fuels. For example,

our Powering Future Vehicles strategy pledges that 10 per cent of new

cars are to be ultra-low carbon by 2012. This will be a major step


The government's Air Quality Strategy and the system of Local Air

Quality Management that we have in the UK is one of the most advanced

in Europe and ranks with any other in the world.

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