New London mayor Sadiq Khan has put forward a package of transport measures to tackle toxic air pollution, including extending the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) and charging the most polluting vehicles more to enter the city centre.
Mr Khan said he will ‘launch a formal policy consultation in a matter of weeks’ and criticised his predecessor, Boris Johnson, for being ‘too slow on this issue’.
Mr Khan campaigning on a London bus
He said: ‘I have been elected with a clear mandate to clean up London’s air – our biggest environmental challenge.
‘The previous mayor was too slow on this issue and the Government has been hopelessly inactive and it’s Londoners who are suffering as a result. We need to speed up our efforts so I’ll be launching a consultation before the summer to kick-start the process. As well as my proposals, I’ll be seeking views on other ways we can do more to clean up the city’s air.’
The proposals in the consultation will include:
- Extending the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) to the North Circular Road and the South Circular Road and the possibility of bringing forward the introduction earlier than 2020. Under current plans the ULEZ will only operate within the Congestion Charging Zone and it is due to come in from 2020
- Implementing an extra charge on the most polluting vehicles entering central London using the Congestion Charge payment and enforcement system from 2017 (this would not mean an increase in the Congestion Charge but ensuring a method for collecting the extra charge from people driving the most polluting vehicles)
- Introducing ULEZ standards for heavy vehicles London-wide from 2020
- Giving the go-ahead for Transport for London (TfL) to start work on the costs and challenges of implementing a diesel scrappage scheme as part of a wider national scheme delivered by the Government
Mr Khan also put forward proposals ‘for TfL to lead by example’, including:
- Introducing self-imposed ULEZ standards a year earlier for TfL double decker buses
- Implementing clean bus corridors – tackling the worst pollution hotspots by concentrating cleaner buses on the dirtiest routes
- Expanding the ULEZ retrofit programme to 3,000 buses outside the central zone (up from 2,000) and purchasing only hybrid or zero-emission double-decker buses from 2018
According to the latest medical research nearly 10,000 people die every year because of polluted air in the capital, which regularly breaches legal limits on pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide (NO2).
Bridget Fox from the Campaign for Better Transport welcomed the announcement but said Mr Khan should also keep his promise to review the ‘damaging’ plans for the Silvertown tunnel, as exclusively revealed on Transport Network.