London plans ultra-low emission zone in world first

The mayor of London Boris Johnson has announced plans to create the world's first Ultra Low Emission Zone in central London, in an attempt to dramatically improve air quality in the capital.

In a speech at City Hall today, Johnson asked Transport for London to prepare plans to look at introducing a scheme that would aim to ensure all vehicles driving in the centre of the capital during working hours would be zero or low emission.

Johnson said: “Creating the world’s first big city ultra-low emission zone has the potential to be a game changing moment in the quality of life of our great capital.

“My vision is a central zone where almost all the vehicles running during working hours are either zero or low emission. This would deliver incredible benefits in air quality and stimulate the delivery and mass use of low emission technology.”

In addition, Johnson announced that a further £20m would be spent on a scheme that helps London’s boroughs tackle local air quality hotspots.

However, the plans have met a mixed reception from some green campaigners who say Johnson’s proposed scheme will not be implemented soon enough.

Friends of the Earth London campaigner Jenny Bates said: “2020 is far too late for an ultra-Low Emission Zone in central London – EU pollution limits are supposed to be met by 2015.

“Boris Johnson must take action by slashing traffic levels in the city through better public transport and encouraging more Londoners to get on their bikes.”

Johnson also announced a package of proposed measures including delivering 600 conventional hybrid buses over the next three years, which would increase the number of hybrid buses in the capital to more than 1,600 by 2016.

Another measure is aimed at cleaning up construction sites, which are are responsible for around 12% of London’s NOx emissions, by implementing a new Low Emission Zone for construction machinery.

The viability of introducing a fleet of zero emission taxis will also be explored.

Conor McGlone

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