Responses to the plan to introduce tougher emissions standards for vehicles to operate in Central London have continued to emerge, ahead of the Wednesday (28 February) deadline for views on the proposals.
London currently operates a city-wide Low Emission Zone which affects heavy vehicles, requiring a minimum Euro IV particulate matter (PM) standard, or drivers face a daily charge of £200. This is alongside a minimum Euro 3 standard for vans and minibuses to avoid a daily charge of £100.
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is seeking to go beyond these standards through the introduction of an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in central London from 8 April 2019.
Replacing the current T-Charge, the ULEZ would see vehicles that do not meet emission standards liable to incur a daily charge to drive within the zone, ranging from £12.50 for some light vehicles, up to an additional £100 for some heavy goods vehicles.
Views are being sought on plans to tighten the standards of the existing London-wide Low Emission Zone from 2020, which affects heavy vehicles – buses, coaches and HGVs and other heavy specialist vehicles as well as expanding the ULEZ for cars, vans and motorbikes from central London up to the North and South Circular roads by 2021.
The consultation on the proposals, which is being led by the Mayor’s Office and Transport for London (TfL) closes on Wednesday, and interest in the plans is expected to be high, with some groups having already publicly outlined their stance on the proposals.
Among them is the British Lung Foundation which has strongly backed the proposals, claiming that measures to reduce the number of polluting vehicles on the capital’s roads will be urgently required if the city’s air is to become cleaner.
In its response to the consultation, the charity stated: “Air pollution on many of London’s roads is at illegal and harmful concentrations. The largest share of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and PM10 emissions come from road transport, with 48% of these NOx emissions coming from: diesel cars (24%), petrol cars (14%) and vans (14%).
“To clean up London’s air, we need to radically reduce the number of polluting vehicles on our roads. That’s why we strongly support the Ultra low emission zone (ULEZ) and think that it should be implemented as widely and quickly as possible.“
Much of the focus is also on the proposed wider boundary for the ULEZ up to the North and South Circular roads – some of which has led to concerns that there could be negative impacts for residents living in outer London boroughs, some of which will have parts in and out of the ULEZ.
These include Richmond borough council, which has claimed that the proposals would ‘split parts of the borough in half’ – echoing similar comments made this month by Wandsworth – which has also raised concerns to the Mayor (see airqualitynews.com story).
Speaking on behalf of Richmond council Cllr Pamela Fleming, the authority’s cabinet member for environment, business and community said: “As a council we strongly support measures to improve air quality in this borough and across London. We have worked closely with the community to encourage the use of more sustainable travel and will shortly be introducing an Air Quality Action Plan for tackling air pollution in Richmond upon Thames.
“However, there are genuine concerns the proposed ULEZ does not address areas in the borough that suffer from the highest pollution levels, such as Richmond and Twickenham Town Centres, whilst simultaneously penalising residents who use Townmead amenity site and potentially increasing the potential for fly tipping.â€?
Cllr Fleming added that she had ‘genuine concerns about the ‘safety risk’ associated with congestion caused by displaced traffic using areas outside of the ULEZ.
She said: “To consider the impact of traffic displacement, the council would like detailed analysis and modelling of traffic to take place, and assurances that we are not simply relocating, contributing or creating future problems.
“The council opposes the proposed North/South Circular boundary and urges the Mayor to extend the ULEZ to cover all London boroughs.
“Whilst we applaud the Mayor’s efforts to improve air quality in London, we do feel more needs to be done to research the impact of these proposals on the borough and urge anyone who wants to have their say to do so before the deadline.â€?
Elsewhere, concerns have also been raised by the body representing the wedding car industry that the plans could penalise wedding car drivers, whose vehicles may not qualify for exemptions under the scheme.
The National Association of Wedding Car Professionals (NAWCP) is seeking talks with the Mayor of London to seek to agree an exemption scheme that could apply to its industry.
Speaking to Air Quality News, David Jones of NAWCP, said: “Wedding cars which produce a totally insignificant amount of pollutants should not in any way be penalised. To do so will affect the wedding car industry to the point that a large number of companies would have to consider closing their businesses.
“We have no objection to the introduction of a ULEZ but what we do seriously object to is any steps that would penalise wedding cars, which are an essential part of one of the greatest traditions in British life, marriage.
“We would be happy to sit down with the Mayor to work out how these vehicles could be exempted – many of which do not meet the criteria to be considered ‘historic’ cars under DVSA rules, and would therefore not automatically qualify for an exemption.â€?