Campaigners Respond to Mayor’s Pollution Promises

29

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has said he will clean up London’s air. He announced there will be a consultation on a number of policies, which include only buying clean energy double-decker buses from the year 2018. Campaigners across the UK have responded.

Sophie Neuburg, Campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “London’s filthy air is responsible for nearly 10,000 premature deaths a year and isn’t due to be fully cleaned up for another nine years. That’s why we called for the Mayor to prioritise air pollution, starting with action to make our iconic red buses greener.

“This swift plan to introduce a new ‘T charge’ for the dirtiest vehicles and to buy only clean double-decker buses is promising, and it’s great to see plans to extend the ultra-low emission zone to the north and south circular. But it is confusing that this announcement comes in the same week that Sadiq Khan has removed a key hurdle in the expansion of City Airport which will only add to London’s dirty air woes.

“Our new mayor needs to be consistent in tackling London’s filthy air. It’s critical that he doesn’t reduce air pollution in one area only to increase it in another.”

Friends of the Earth is calling for the Mayor to:

– Commit to bringing London’s air pollution down to legal levels by 2020

– Ban buses running under diesel power in central London and near pollution hotspots

– Oppose all new airport expansion in the London area, including City Airport

– Honour the pledge to set up a review of road river crossings for East London and assess whether a package of non-road alternatives could serve London’s economy and Londoners health better

Campaign for Better Transport and ClientEarth have also responded to Sadiq Khan’s announcement of a new consultation into how to tackle air pollution in London.

Bridget Fox, Sustainable Transport Campaigner, said: “It’s good to see the new Mayor recognises the need for urgent action on London’s air pollution crisis. With dirty diesel engines the main cause, early introduction of an expanded Ultra Low Emission Zone would be a vital and welcome step.

“However, cleaning up central London’s air while increasing pollution elsewhere in the capital is unacceptable. The Mayor must also keep his promise to review the damaging plans for the Silvertown tunnel which would simply attract more heavy traffic through some of London’s worst affected neighbourhoods.”

Alan Andrews, Lawyer at ClientEarth, said: “This is a hugely positive announcement from the new Mayor and shows clear ambition to clean up London’s dirty air. We welcome his plans to extend the Ultra-Low Emission Zone and to bring it in earlier. This is vital if we are to take the dirtiest vehicles out of London.

“We will have to wait and see if the detail of the Mayor’s proposals matches his ambition. With air pollution causing over 9,000 deaths a year in London it is vital that all options to solve this problem are on the table. It will be crucial that the ULEZ ensures vehicles meet the most stringent emission standards when driving on London’s roads, not just in discredited laboratory tests.

“Today’s announcement, coming so early in the new Mayor’s term, should send a clear message to the UK government that ambitious and bold action is needed. The Government must now up its game so that the whole country can breathe cleaner air.”