It’s a gas, gas, gas!

Merton Council is helping to clean up London’s dirty air by participating in the London-wide roadside vehicle exhaust-testing programme, which was launched by the Association of London Government and the Mayor of London Ken Livingstone.

Since July, a team of qualified independent testers have been visiting 28 London borough’s to carry out spot checks on potentially polluting vehicles. The aim of the exercise is to raise awareness of the problem of emissions from gas exhausts.

The team visited London Road, Mitcham on Wednesday 17 and Thursday 18 September 2003. One hundred and four vehicles were stopped by a police officer for a quick two-minute test of emissions levels. In Merton two cars failed the test.

The emissions testers will be visiting each London borough on at least 18 separate occasions over the next 12 months. Therefore they will be returning to Merton again.

London is one of the most polluted cities in the world and this crackdown aims to reduce the huge contribution vehicles make to pollution. One in five vehicles are estimated to break the legal amount of emissions set under the MOT test. Vehicles are tested for pollutants including carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and hydrocarbons. High emissions could mean that a vehicle is not running as efficiently as it could.

Councillor Linda Kirby, Merton’s Cabinet Member for Environmental Quality, said: “I took my car to be tested and it only just passed the test. It was just before it was due its MOT test and annual service and the engine was cutting out a bit. I was surprised because my car is not that old.

“Now I will be taking the advice of the tester and buying an engine cleaning product that will help keep the emission level low. I would advise other residents to do this too. Better still, I’d buy an alternative energy car if they hurry up and put one on the market.”

An emissions test is included, as part of an MOT and if your vehicle has recently passed its MOT it should also pass the emissions test. Under new government legislation, drivers of vehicles found to be above the emission limits set by MOT tests will either be warned or fined, depending on how much they exceed this limit. If they are fined, they will be issued with a £60 fixed penalty charge, reduced to £30 if the vehicle is brought into MOT standard within 14 days. The two cars, which failed in Merton, were issued with a fixed penalty notices.