Sadiq Khan has announced plans for a £23m scrappage scheme to help micro-businesses prepare for London's Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ).
The scheme would initially be aimed at helping businesses with fewer than 10 employees switch to lower emission vehicles, including electric. City Hall said it is planned to be in place ahead of London’s new central London ULEZ, which from April 2019 will charge vehicles that do not meet stricter emission standards.
This includes diesel vans that do not meet the Euro 6 standard, which will be charged £12.50 a day to drive in central London.
Funding would be available to scrap vans that do not comply with the new ULEZ standards, but are driven into the ULEZ zone regularly.
City Hall said Mr Khan has asked officials and Transport for London to work out how the money could be spent most effectively, and further details of the scheme will be available next year.
Mr Khan said: ‘To truly get a grip on our lethal air we need to take bold action to rid our city of the most polluting vehicles.
‘It’s not good enough to do nothing, and I’m determined to take real action which is why I’ve already delivered the Toxicity Charge in central London for the oldest polluting vehicles, cleaned up our bus fleet, and brought forward the Ultra Low Emission Zone. My scrappage scheme is my next step in tackling pollution.’
The mayor has also challenged ministers to match-fund his proposed scheme, either from the £245m National Clean Air Fund or from underspend on Highways England’s £75m air quality fund, which would enable scrappage support for other Londoners. City Hall said this would also give ministers the evidence they need to judge scrappage proposals from other cities, ‘and demonstrate the transformational benefits of a truly national scrappage fund’.
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: ‘Vans criss-cross the capital making journeys that are crucial for London’s economy. They are likely to cover more miles per day than a car simply driving to and from a single place of work.
‘Helping smaller businesses, with limited cash flow, trade up to newer cleaner vehicles faster than they could do otherwise makes sense.’
In response to the mayor’s request for cash from the fund, a Highways England spokesperson said: ‘We are not underspending on our air quality fund. We have every intention of investing the full amount within our current five-year programme, which continues until March 2020.
‘Since 2015 we have been doing the necessary investigation of options for meaningful and effective interventions to improve air quality; our plans include starting our national barrier installation programme, supporting a local authority to help us accelerate the uptake of electric vehicles for all fleets operating vans, and investigating opportunities for even more electric charging points.’