Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) writes open letter to London Mayor calling for rethink on ULEZ 2020 plans
The UK motor industry has called on the London Mayor to â€œrethinkâ€ plans for an ultra low emission zone (ULEZ) in the capital from 2020 to enforce â€œmore ambitiousâ€ emission standards for both petrol vehicles.
Transport for London (TfL) and the Mayor are currently consulting with the public over plans for the ULEZ â€“ which would see only vehicles meeting specified emission standards being able to enter the Congestion Charge zone â€“ until January 9 2015.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said it welcomed the ULEZ plans in principle but added that London should â€œset the benchmark for the worldâ€™s great citiesâ€ by implementing a scheme which â€œdemands the very best in vehicle technologyâ€.
In an open letter addressed to the Mayor, Boris Johnson, yesterday (December 16), SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes called for the ULEZ require the â€œlatest European emission standards â€“ Euro 6/VI â€“ across all vehicle classes regardless of the fuel typeâ€.
Current ULEZ proposals allow 2006-standard Euro 4 petrol vehicles and Euro 6 standard diesel vehicles, which he said was a â€œmissed opportunityâ€ as Euro 4 petrol cars will be 14 years old by 2020, even though Euro 6 petrol vehicles are on sale now and would be â€œreasonably affordableâ€ to Londoners by 2020.
Advocating newer diesel vehicles as much improved for air pollution emissions compared to older models, Mr Hawes said that the industry had invested billions of pounds in the UK in developing the next generation of diesel engines to â€œreduce CO2 emissions and improve air qualityâ€, and suggested that petrol vehicles should be forced to reach similar standards in the ULEZ.
Older diesel vehicle models are blamed for contributing high levels of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter, but SMMT claims that diesel vehicles built today are the â€œcleanest ever madeâ€ and capture over 99% of particulates.
Mr Hawes therefore argued that amending the current ULEZ plans to enforce the latest EU emission standards would â€œencourage fleet renewal in the market, incentivise the uptake of the best in clean technology and create economic growth and jobs in London and the UKâ€.
Doing so, Mr Hawes wrote, would â€œaccelerate improvements in air quality for all Londoners, safeguard jobs in the capital and ensure the ULEZ is simple for consumers to understand and endorseâ€.
However, the SMMT chief also stressed that while road transport is a â€œsignificant contributor to ambient air qualityâ€, any effort to address this issue must be part of an â€œintegrated approachâ€ tackling both air pollutants and carbon emissions.
He also said effective traffic management was needed to reduce congestion and ensure that new vehicle technologies â€œoperate at optimum performance within urban context.
Last month (November 6), Mr Hawes also appeared in front of the London Assemblyâ€™s environment committee to discuss tackling diesel emissions in the capital, at which he said that diesel vehicles will â€œstill be around for many years to comeâ€ (see airqualitynews.com story).
Responding to Mr Hawes open letter, Transport for Londonâ€™s (TfL) managing director of planning, MichÃ¨le Dix, emphasised the air quality benefits of the current ULEZ plans and encouraged London residents to give their views on the proposals in the current consultation.
She said: â€œImproving the capitalâ€™s air quality is of paramount importance as it affects the health and well-being of every Londoner. That is why we are doing everything in our power to address emissions from road transport, with the introduction of an ultra low emission zone at the core of our work to improve the capitalâ€™s air.
â€œThe ULEZ would significantly reduce the number of people living in areas of poor air quality â€“ by 74% in central London, 51% in inner London and 43% in outer London.Â We would urge everyone who lives, works or travels in London to give us their views on the ULEZ public consultation, which runs until 9 January.â€