Mayor also announces £65m to fund zero emission taxis in formal response to ultra low emission zone consultation
The London Mayor Boris Johnson today (March 26) confirmed that the ‘world’s first’ ultra low emission zone will come into force in the UK capital on September 7 2020 following a consultation on the proposal earlier this year.
And, the Mayor also welcomed £65 million funding to support London taxi drivers’ transition to zero emission capable taxis, following news that these vehicles will be assembled at a new ‘state-of-the-art’ plant in Coventry by the London Taxi Company.
Confirmed by the Mayor’s Office this morning, the ULEZ will require vehicles travelling in the Congestion Charge Zone in central London to meet emission standards 24 hours a day, seven days a week, or to pay a daily charge dependent on vehicle type.
The full ULEZ package is expected to halve emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate matter (PM10) from vehicle exhausts in central London.
According to the Mayor’s Office, the “positiveâ€? consultation process – which closed on January 9 (see airqualitynews.com story) – prompted 16,000 responses and found 58% either support or strongly support the introduction of the ULEZ.
Mr Johnson, said: “The world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone is an essential measure to help improve air quality in our city, protect the health of Londoners, and lengthen our lead as the greatest city on earth. With additional funds announced today, more help is on the way for taxi drivers to support their transition to the latest technology in greener cabs. Together we can ensure everyone who lives, works in, or visits our city has the cleanest possible air to breathe.â€?
It was also announced today that vehicles adapted for disabled people will have a three year ‘sunset period’, meaning that they do not need to comply with the emissions standards until September 2023. Mr Johnson also confirmed that vehicles in the 40 year rolling vehicle tax exemption for classic vehicles will be exempt from the ULEZ standards.
The Mayor welcomed an extra £25 million from the government to help support London taxi drivers’ transition to zero emission capable taxis. This comes in addition to £40 million already committed by the Mayor.
The money will assist taxi drivers whose vehicles will be affected by the tighter taxi age limits, which come into force from January 2018, meaning that all new taxis and private hire vehicles under 18 months old presented for licensing in the capital for the first time will have to be zero emission capable.
Transport for London (TfL) has been asked by the Mayor to “undertake further engagementâ€? with the taxi and private hire trade before finalising his plans to change the licensing requirements for these vehicles in the summer.
TfL also said it would lobby the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) for further funding from its £500 million funding pot to support the uptake of zero emission capable vehicles and put in place supporting charging infrastructure.
Announcing the plans today, Mr Johnson joined Prime Minister David Cameron at the London Taxi Company factory in Coventry, which has secured a £250 million investment from Chinese company Geely to build a new state-of-the-art research, development and assembly facility, which will produce zero-emission capable taxis in the UK.
Situated close to the existing Coventry factory, the new facility will have the capacity to assemble up to 36,000 vehicles each year. Geely was awarded £17 million from the government’s Regional Growth Fund to build this facility.
Prime Minister David Cameron said: “I welcome this announcement, which is a world first and great news for London, helping to enhance the quality of life and creating opportunities for companies who develop and manufacture this kind of technology. This will build on the UK’s strengths in low emission technology and the government is backing this initiative with £25 million of support.â€?
Critics of the Mayor have repeatedly called for the ULEZ to be brought in sooner than 2020 and to encompass a larger area than the Congestion Charge zone in order to further boost air quality and much sooner, but the Mayor has argued that motorists need a suitable amount of time to adapt ahead of the regulations (see airquality news.com story).
And, responding to the Mayor’s announcement today, London Assembly Member for Labour, Murad Qureshi, again said that that while welcomed the ULEZ, it will come into force “far too late for the 7,500 people a year who die from the effects of air pollutionâ€?.
Mr Qureshi said: “Boris Johnson has had seven years to get to grips with the capital’s pollution problem yet on his watch progress has stalled despite growing medical evidence that it costs lives.
“By allowing all London boroughs to opt into the ULEZ, instead of limiting it to a small inner London zone as the Mayor proposes, we would be able to improve the air quality of the whole capital. Boris Johnson’s limited ambition, and the significant exemptions to the ULEZ, risk undermining its effectiveness and condemning vast swathes of the capital to an increasingly toxic future.â€?