Sadiq Khan doubles investment in clean air policies

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has stepped up his commitment to tackling the capital's deadly air pollution levels by doubling the investment in air quality improvements over the next five years.

Khan this week announced that £875m will be invested into actions to clean up the capital’s air through to 2021/22 – more than double the previous £425m committed by Khan’s mayoral predecessor Boris Johnson.

Khan said: “With nearly 10,000 Londoners dying early every year due to air pollution, tackling poor air quality is a public health emergency that requires bold action. I want London to be a world leader in how we respond to the challenge of cleaning up our air, and today I’m announcing that TfL will be doubling spending on improving London’s air over the next five years.”

Ahead of the publication of the Transport for London (TfL) Business Plan, Khan has already proposed a range of “far-reaching” programmes to tackle poor air quality levels across London, including the launch of the world’s first Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) earlier than expected (2019) and plans to extend the zone across North and South circulars for all vehicles.

The Mayor’s office plans to invest £22m and consult on the Emissions Surcharge to remove older polluting vehicles from central London. Khan is also looking to introduce five low-emission neighbourhoods, spanning eight boroughs. The plan will be aided by local businesses, with £5m invested from TfL along with a £9m contribution from the Mayor’s Quality Air Fund to tackle the worst air pollution hotspots across London.

The Mayor is also now working with the City of Westminster to make Oxford Street a more pedestrian-friendly environment by improving the area’s air quality. To help achieve this, the Mayor seeks to reduce the amount of buses on Oxford Street. City of Westminster press office released a response to the Mayor’s announcement, in which it outlined its plans to upgrade 60 new electric chargepoints from January 2017 and adding up to 20 new outlets.

Taxi and private-hire vehicle trades will also be targeted by the clean air push. From January 2018, all new black cabs registered in the capital will need to be zero-emissions capable, with no diesel taxis allowed. A fund of £65m will be provided to phase out taxis more than 10 years old and to encourage early adoption of zero-emission alternatives. Additionally, minicab firms will need to meet the same standard when licenced after 1 January 2020.

Khan recently told edie that he wanted businesses to be front and centre of his ambitions make London “the greenest city in the world”.

Alex Baldwin

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