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Mayor launches second phase of air quality consultation

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has revealed detailed proposals for delivering the central London Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in 2019, a year ahead of schedule, and extending the ULEZ to the North and South Circular in 2019 or later.

He has also started the formal consultation necessary to introduce the ‘T charge’ for older polluting vehicles in October 2017.

New City Hall research shows that people living in London’s most deprived communities, often by busy roads, are on average exposed to 25% higher levels of harmful NO2 pollution.

It is estimated that the equivalent of 9,400 premature deaths occur each year in London due to illnesses caused by long-term exposure to air pollution and 448 schools in London are in areas exceeding legal air quality levels. 

Diesel vehicles are seen as a major contributor to pollution and associated health impacts in London and Khan wants to phase out these vehicles from the bus, taxi and other fleets.

He said: “Toxic air in London is a health emergency that requires bold action, including introducing charges for older polluting vehicles and expanding the ULEZ.

“I am determined to help every Londoner breathe cleaner air.  After the massive response to my first consultation I now need the public to let me know their views on my detailed proposals to help clean-up our filthy air."

The consultation gives fleets the opportunity to have their say on the preferred date for the start of an expanded ULEZ – which is up to the North South circular for cars, motorcycles and vans, and in central London for buses, coaches and lorries. Options include as early as 2019 to 2021 or later.

Depending on feedback the Mayor will ask TfL to develop these potential options into detailed statutory proposals for consultation next year. 

Alex Williams, managing director of planning at Transport for London (TfL), said: “The Mayor has asked us to set out in detail and seek views on a range of proposals that will have a significant impact in reducing pollution in the capital.  

“We think these ambitious proposals show London is taking the lead globally in tackling one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century. I would urge as many people as possible to respond to the consultation to help us shape our plans.”

The proposed Emissions Surcharge (T-charge) would apply to older polluting vehicles driving into the Congestion Charge zone from October 2017. This charge would be in addition to the Congestion Charge and would apply to vehicles that do not meet the Euro 4/IV emissions standard for NOx and PM emissions. Pre-Euro 4 vehicles are generally those registered up to and including 2005.

The charge, costing £10 per day for non-compliant vehicles, would operate at the same times as the Congestion Charge (Monday to Friday, 07:00 – 18:00).   

To further support the ULEZ, TfL is leading by example and will ensure all double decker buses operating in the zone will be hybrid and all single decker buses will be fully electric or hydrogen.

The London Mayor’s Clean Air consultation key proposals include:

  • Implementing a £10 Emissions Surcharge (dubbed the ‘T-charge’) on the most polluting vehicles entering central London from 2017.  The charge would apply to all vehicles with pre-Euro 4 emission standards (broadly speaking those registered before 2005) and will cost an extra £10 per day on top of the existing Congestion Charge
  • Introducing the central London ULEZ one year earlier in 2019
  • Extending the ULEZ beyond central London possibly in 2019: for motorcycles, cars and vans, to the North and South Circular; and for lorries, buses and coaches Greater London-wide
  • Developing a detailed proposal for a national diesel scrappage scheme for Government to implement
  • Bringing forward the requirement for all double–deck buses to be ULEZ-compliant in central London from 2020 to 2019
  • Implementing clean bus corridors – tackling the worst pollution hotspots by delivering cleaner buses on the dirtiest routes

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has reacted with disappointment to the plans, with a London-wide Euro VI requirement for lorries now likely to be introduced from 2019.

It had previously warned that the ULEZ was only possible if the central London area and the 2020 deadline for HGVs stayed the same, and stated that if either were to be altered due to a change of Mayor, it would cause serious difficulties for businesses.

FTA’s head of national and regional policy Christopher Snelling said: “We stated before that the central ULEZ starting in 2019 and expanding in 2020 would cause significant issues – especially in the van sector where there will only be two-and-a-half to three years’ worth of compliant vehicles in the fleet. Typically, operators who rely on second-hand vehicles buy at four years old so it will place significant cost burdens on them.

“Now the Mayor has suggested that the expansion to inner London for vans and Greater London for HGVs could happen in 2019.

“Bringing this further forward only adds to the cost on small businesses. Those using, or relying on, vans in inner London will now face a situation where there are no second hand vehicles available to purchase.”

FTA estimates that to comply with these proposals will cost the average small operator with five vans more than £100,000 extra up front – more than 150% of the company’s annual turnover. Therefore, the FTA claims that the regulation could lock some small businesses out of the London market altogether.

Snelling concluded: “No-one disputes the need to improve air quality. Once again what we do object to is the one-sided nature of these measures – all burden and no support. 

“London could improve air quality more quickly and reduce the burden on businesses at the same time by offering a temporary discount to the Congestion Charge for compliant vehicles prior to the ULEZ starting. 

“The Government has said it has no interest in a scrappage scheme and we see no prospect of that changing.”

It is the concern over the effect on small businesses and need for this support that FTA will be putting forward in its response to the consultation.

To view the consultation and have your say, click here.


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