London Assembly calls for stronger environmental policies and reaffirms position against third runway at Heathrow
The Mayor of London has been urged to lobby central government for stronger environmental policies to benefit the capital, such as more incentives to encourage the up-take of low emission vehicles.
A motion passed by the London Assembly yesterday (September 9) calls on the Mayor, Boris Johnson – who now sits in government cabinet meetings – to “seek an urgent meeting with government ministersâ€? in order to lobby for “stronger national policies to facilitate a cleaner, greener Londonâ€?.
According to the motion, such a meeting would enable to Mayor to “discuss ways of mitigating the worst effects of the government’s summer budgetâ€?, including, it states, recent changes to Vehicle Excise Duty to tax new cars based on CO2 emissions.
Critics of the VED changes argue that the focus on CO2 emissions rather than air pollution emissions incentivises diesel vehicles, which produce lower carbon emissions than petrol cars, but are often criticised for their NO2 emissions.
As a result, the VED changes outlined in the 2015 Summer Budget will “disincentivise consumers buying low emission vehiclesâ€? and “create policy uncertainty at the very time when London needs to up its game in tackling poor air qualityâ€?.
It states: “Given that it is low emission vehicles that is driving growth in the UK new car market, this policy change will damage business and consumer confidence.â€?
London Assembly Member Murad Qureshi, who proposed the motion, commented:
“By undermining the capital’s ability to deliver energy efficiency and improve its air quality, the Government’s summer budget represents a major hindrance to attempts to tackle London’s most significant environmental challenges. “
In addition, the Assembly also reaffirmed its stance against the construction of a third runway at Heathrow following a public meeting with the Airports Commission chief Sir Howard Davies.
Mr Davies earlier this year recommended that UK airport capacity be expanded at Heathrow to boost jobs and economic growth (see AirQualityNews.com story).
However, the London Assembly remains unconvinced by this stance for a number of reasons, included a perceived adverse impact on local air quality from such a development, and unanimously passed a motion yesterday against the Airports Commission’s recommendation.
Assembly Member Richard Tracey said a third runway would be the “wrong choice for Londonersâ€? and would increase noise in West London but “would not solve the long term aviation capacity problemâ€?.
Darren Johnson, Green Party AM, added: “The Assembly has been united in opposing Heathrow expansion for a decade, and I’m glad a majority still oppose it today. A third runway would make it impossible to tackle climate change and reduce air pollution below legal limits, and it would expose one million Londoners to aircraft noise. The only people to really benefit would be the owners of Heathrow airport.â€?