The UK have been given a “final warning” by the European Commission for repeatedly breaching the legal limit for air pollution.

This comes after London breached its annual air pollution limits within a week days for the third successive year.

Brixton Road, Lambeth took just five days of 2017 to register levels of pollutant nitrogen exceeding annual limits, making it the first air quality monitoring site to do so this year.

Putney High Street breached regulations by January 8 in 2016. In 2015 Oxford Street surpassed the annual limit in two days.

Birmingham, Leeds and Glasgow have also breached the levels of nitrogen dioxide allowed and the UK risks being taken to court over the issue.

Air pollution is linked to the early deaths of about 40,000 people a year in the UK, causes problems such as heart and lung diseases and asthma, and affects children's development.

Legal levels of nitrogen dioxide, which allow hourly limits to be breached only 18 times a year, should have been met by 2010, but the Government has admitted it could be 2025 before air quality levels in London are within the rules.

Road traffic, particularly diesel engines, are responsible for much of the emissions, with around four fifths of nitrogen oxides from transport coming from diesel-powered vehicles.

Jenny Bates, Friends Of The Earth air pollution campaigner, said: "Air pollution is responsible for tens of thousands of early deaths every year and is harming the health of an entire generation of children.

"Current government plans have been shown to be too little too late," she said, calling for Government funding for clean air zones in pollution hot spots to tackle transport emissions.

London mayor Sadiq Khan demanded ministers bring in a national diesel scrappage scheme to get the dirtiest vehicles off the road and give cities more power and resources to tackle pollution.

Environmental law firm ClientEarth has won cases in the Supreme Court and High Court which require the Government to produce stronger measures to bring down illegal levels of pollution as quickly as possible, with new plans due by April 24.

Chief executive James Thornton said the warning was "a reminder of just how serious a problem the UK has with air pollution.

"With this final warning from the Commission, the Government is under pressure from all sides to stop dithering and act decisively to meet its moral and legal obligations to clean up our unhealthy air."