London Assembly calls for further air quality measures

The London Assembly has today (June 3) passed a motion calling on the Mayor to set out additional measures aimed at helping the capital to comply with legal air quality standards, with members singling out diesel emissions as the ‘primary’ contributor to pollution in the capital.

The Mayor hopes to publish his final London Plan by March 2015

The London Assembly has passed a motion calling for further air quality measures before 2020 to comply with NO2 limits

And, Assembly Members urged the London Mayor, Boris Johnson, to investigate potential policies to tackle air pollution which could be brought in ahead of the planned ultra low emission zone in 2020.

The motion also welcomes the Supreme Court’s ruling that the UK must produce a new air quality plan before the end of the year to meet EU nitrogen dioxide limit values, and states that the Mayor has a duty — under the Greater London Authority Act (1999) — to bring forward policies to achieve air quality standards.

Currently, according to Defra data, parts of the capital are not expected to comply with EU limit values for nitrogen dioxide until after 2030 — more than 20 years after the original compliance deadline.

As a result, the motion states: “This Assembly believes that further measures are needed urgently if London is to achieve compliance with health-based, legal limits and avoid the prospect of substantial fines being passed down to the Greater London Authority (GLA) under the terms of the Localism Act (2011).”

It adds: “This Assembly therefore calls on the Mayor of London to take additional steps to ensure that the period of exceedance of air quality limits in London is kept as short as possible, and investigate potential policies that could be enacted in advance of the launch of the ULEZ. Such policies should enable Transport for London (TfL) to influence purchasing and driving behaviour far sooner than currently planned while delivering a measurable benefit to the health and quality of life of Londoners.”

The motion was agreed by 11 votes in favour to four against, and was proposed by Liberal Democrat Assembly Member Stephen Knight, which is also chair of the Assembly’s environment committee.

Commenting after the motion passed today, Mr Knight highlighted the “growing body of evidence that diesel is the primary contribution to London’s appalling air pollution”, adding that the Mayor should take action to address the issue ahead of 2020.

Mr Knight said:

“To help tackle the problem every tool in the public policy toolbox needs to be used and one option that could be investigated is adapting the congestion charge to add a modest levy on all diesel vehicles entering central London from 2016. Such a policy would help influence purchasing and driving behaviour far sooner than currently planned by existing polices, so leading to a real improvement in the health and quality of life for Londoners.”

Earlier this week the Mayor announced a new Low Emission Neighbourhoods scheme, with applications open to London boroughs to find innovative ways of tackling the capital’s pollution hotspots (see story).

The Mayor, Boris Johnson, also recently suggested that he was open to more London borough’s joining the ULEZ, which would potentially expand the zone beyond central London (see story).


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