London Assembly calls on Boris to ‘bin diesel’

A new report from the London Assembly Environment Committee has warned Boris Johnson that he needs to accelerate his air quality programs to comply with EU and UK laws.

The report, released tday, claims that diesel vehicles are to blame for much of London’s air pollution problems and must be banned from the centre of the capital as soon as 2020.

Official estimates suggest that over 3,000 deaths each year in London are attributable to air pollution, while the UK Supreme Court recently ordered the Government to tackle the dangerously high levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) found in the UK.

Diesel exhaust fumes account for around 40% of London’s emissions of nitrogen oxides.

Environment Committee member Stephen Knight said: “The Committee has been pushing for NO2 compliance for some time now but following the judgment from the Supreme Court in April, the Government is now obliged to act by law.

“We urge the Mayor and the Government to take our recommendations on board and we call on the Mayor to finally take ownership of the matter in order to help London’s air quality meet legal limits.

“As petrol engines become cleaner with time it’s becoming clear that diesel emissions are a large part of the problem, so our report addresses this issue specifically.”

The recommendations

The report urges the Government to support Boris’ plans to introduce an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) by 2020, but also calls on Boris to strengthen and widen these plans.

For example the report suggests that all diesel cars be banned from the ULEZ, and that all non-zero-emission cars be banned from the ULEZ before 2025.

The report adds: “The Mayor should also continue to work to promote cleaner technologies for HGVs, such as hybrid, electric and fuel cell drives, and smarter freight management to reduce the distance driven.

“We also call on the Mayor to reduce emissions where he has greatest control – in the public transport fleets of buses, taxis and minicabs”.

This year has already seen the start of mass-production for zero-emissions black cabs, while the first electric double-decker bus is expected to enter service in London in October.

However the Assembly warns that London doesn’t have enough rapid charging points to support the rollout of these vehicles, and that the current 2033 target for all taxis and minicabs to be zero-emission-capable is “too late”.


Campaign group Friends of the Earth welcomed the report, adding: “It’s a disgrace that a first class city should have third rate air quality. 

“The London Mayor and Government must take urgent steps to help end the scandal of London’s filthy air by tackling traffic levels and ensuring that our vehicles are cleaner.

“More must be done to encourage people to leave their cars at home, including greater investment in better public transport, cycling and walking facilities.”

Brad Allen

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