Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, has identified air pollution as â€œthe biggest individual challengeâ€ facing the capital, according to an air quality official at the Greater London Authority.
Elliot Treharne also emphasised Mr Khanâ€™s â€œvery different viewâ€ on air quality to his predecessor Boris Johnson and suggested Londoners â€œshould not dwell on the pastâ€.
Mr Treharne was speaking at a Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum seminar at London Bridge today (May 17), launched to address UK air quality â€˜policy priorities, best practice and industry engagementâ€™.
The event session was chaired by Murad Qureshi, former chair of the London Assembly Environment Committee, and included speakers from the European Respiratory Society and Temple Group.
Taking to the podium, Mr Treharne outlined the London Mayorâ€™s package of measures planned to tackle the cityâ€™s air quality.
These include plans to bring forward introduction of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone as well as extending its reach to the North and South Circular road. Under former London Mayor Boris Johnson, the ULEZ was previously limited to the existing congestion charging zone and was not due to come in until September 2020 (see airqualitynews.com story).
The air quality manager described the package as Mr Khanâ€™s â€œfirst policy interventionâ€ of his term as Mayor, adding that the proposals represented a â€œclear mandate on air qualityâ€.
Mr Treharne said: â€œHe has made it very clear he wants to hear from Londoners and a policy consultation is due to begin in a matter of weeks.â€
â€œHe wants to introduce a charge on the most polluting vehicles entering central London. He wants to send a really clear signal to people they go out and consider which vehicle to buy. He wants to take Euro 6 standard and apply it across the whole of London in 2020.â€
He went on to suggest that while London needed to lead by example, â€œnational leadershipâ€ was also required for the newly-elected Mayor to tackle the issue. â€œTo mitigate these measures they need to be complimented with government support, such as a diesel scrappage scheme,â€ he added.
Taking questions from the floor, Mr Treharne faced accusations from one delegate that Greater London Authority had not done enough to face up to air pollution in the capital while Mr Johnson was still in power.
He responded: â€œEach Mayor is elected on their manifesto and they have to strike the right balance. Rather than dwell on the past we have a new Mayor now who has a very different view on how to tackle air quality.â€