London Mayor Sadiq Khan has today announced his first major policy decision – to clean up the capital’s air quality.
The Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ), originally planned for 2020, could now be introduced a year earlier and cover more than double the area previously announced by former Mayor Boris Johnson. Here are the proposals:
- Extend the ULEZ to North and South Circular Roads – the original plan only operated within the Congestion Charging Zone.
- An extra fee of £12.50 on top of the Congestion Charge to imposed on the most polluting vehicles entering central London from 2017.
- ULEZ standards to be introduced for heavy vehicles London-wide from 2020.
- Investigation on providing a diesel scrappage scheme, similar to that run by the government.
- Clean bus corridors – tackling the worst pollution hotspots by concentrating cleaner buses on the dirtiest routes.
- Expanding the ULEZ retrofit programme from 2,000 to 3,000 buses outside the central zone.
- Purchasing only hybrid or zero-emission double-decker buses from 2018
London’s poor air quality has long been a bone of contention, with the former Mayor frequently criticised for not doing enough to reduce pollution. Khan said:
“I have been elected with a clear mandate to clean up London’s air – our biggest environmental challenge.
“In the past, London has only responded after an emergency, like with the Clean Air Act, which followed the Great London Smogs of the 1950s. But I want to act before an emergency, which is why we need big, bold and sometimes difficult policies if London is to match the scale of the challenge.”
The two pollutants causing concern are Particulate Matter (PM) and Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), and London has frequently breached EU limits – Putney High Street exceeded it just eight days into 2016. In 2015, a report from Kings College London revealed that the deaths of an estimated 9,500 Londoners could be attributed to air pollution.
Green Party London Assembly member Caroline Russell said in response to Khan’s announcement:
“While I warmly welcome the Mayor’s intention to expand the ULEZ to the North and South Circular, it’s essential that all outer London boroughs should also have the ability to opt in right from the beginning. There are a lot of heavily polluted main roads beyond the ring road where residents will want cleaner air.”