Last week to respond to the Mayor of London’s clean air survey

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Londoners have until the 29 July to respond to the Mayor of London’s clean air survey. The survey is the first stage of a longer consultation on the Mayor’s plans for tackling the capital’s harmful levels of air pollution. It is a key opportunity for Londoners to tell the Mayor he needs to be bold and do all he can to clean up London’s air.

The urgency with which the new Mayor, who only took up office in May, seems to be treating tackling air pollution has been widely welcome and is much needed. A YouGov poll by ClientEarth earlier this year found that more than half of Londoners polled believed that the Mayor has a moral duty to tackle air pollution and that diesel vehicles should be banned from central London.

Currently, the Mayor is proposing a number of measures, primarily aimed at reducing emissions from road transport:

  • The first key measure is a new emissions surcharge (dubbed the ‘T-charge’) to be applied on some of the oldest vehicles entering the existing Congestion Charge Zone from 2017 until the introduction of the Ultra Low Emission Zone.
  • The second key measure proposes bringing forward the implementation of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), approved by his predecessor in 2015, by one year, from 2020 to 2019, and expanding the area covered beyond the Congestion Charge Zone.
  • There are also proposals to accelerate the clean up of Transport for London’s bus fleet and to do more to alert Londoners when air pollution levels are particularly high, among others.

More detail, however, is needed to see how bold the Mayor is prepared to be in helping Londoners breathe cleaner air. This will follow in later consultations but now is a key opportunity to set the bar high.

  • The current ULEZ will help to reduce emissions from road transport, one of the main sources of air pollution, by setting minimum emissions standards for vehicles entering central London. While a positive step, this has been criticized by medical professionals, local authorities, London Assembly Members, MPs, civic societies as well as health, transport and environmental NGOs for not going far enough. A bigger, better ULEZ brought in sooner will help to accelerate and increase the much needed reduction of road transport emissions.
  • The T-charge will further help to accelerate the benefits from the ULEZ, sending signals to vehicle owners and manufacturers that London needs cleaner vehicles. However, by tackling just the older vehicles the current proposals ignore that newer diesel cars are not only more polluting than their petrol counterparts but can also be more polluting than older diesel cars.
  • More effective and proactive public awareness campaigns on air pollution are needed to encourage people to reduce their contribution and support the bold measures that will be needed. Crucially this also needs to include a proactive alert system to inform the public and, in particular, vulnerable people when levels of air pollution are particularly bad and could pose an immediate threat to their health.
  • Overall, while the Mayor needs to take immediate action to start reducing air pollution, this all needs to be part of an overall comprehensive strategy that addresses all the sources and joins up with other policy areas that the Mayor has control or influence over, such as planning and climate change.

Have your say by Friday

The Mayor’s clean air survey is online – you need to register for a free Talk London account to take part.

The online survey is the recommended way to respond, but if you prefer not to register, then you can email your comments to glaairquality@london.gov.uk by Friday 29 July.

Photo credit: miuenski miuenski via flickr cc

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