– Extension will only improve air quality by an additional 10% – original ULEZ will see 51% reduction
– Projected additional cost of £780million – £220 per household
– Money could buy 2,600 hybrid buses for same impact on emissions
– Report calls on Mayor to keep original ULEZ and suggests alternative additions
The Mayor of London’s proposal to extend the ULEZ is a clumsy policy that will fail to tackle pollution hotspots and will penalise drivers and businesses in non-polluting areas, a new report shows.
A similar targeted policy in Oxford Street saw emissions fall by a third in just 12 months and the original ULEZ, focusing on central London, is predicted to cut harmful emissions by 51 per cent.
The Mayor’s proposed extension to the lesser-polluted areas within the North and South Circular however would see pollution fall by just an additional 10 per cent.
Despite the low impact, the report predicts the cost of the extension at £780million – £220 for every household in London – a figure based on financial projections from Islington Council, which is in favour of the policy.
Mr Bacon argues that, if that amount of cash is available, it could be spent on 2,600 hybrid buses, replacing almost a third of London’s fleet, and tackling the single biggest source of emissions on London’s road.
Small businesses could be decimated by charges for driving inside the North and South Circular – which TfL figures predict could total £100million a year for drivers within the affected zone.
TfL analysis also shows large areas of the extended ULEZ zone are well within legal emissions limits, yet drivers would face the same penalties as those in pollution hotspots.
London Assembly member Gareth Bacon said:
“Tackling air pollution is one of the most important issues the Mayor will have to deal with in his term at City Hall so it is vital his policies are effective.
“The original ULEZ is a perfect example of an effective policy. Unfortunately the Mayor’s clumsy extension proposal tars every borough with the same brush and fails to tackle the worst-hit areas. As a result, the extension will have a limited impact on overall emissions.
“We could all be persuaded to spend large amounts of money on polices that work. But at a cost to drivers of £100million in the first year, this extension will make daily trips like the school run or a drive to the supermarket unaffordable for many families and small businesses could be decimated by the additional overheads.
“What’s more, at a total cost of £780million to taxpayers, the Mayor would be far better off investing the money in alternative measures and targeting the worst-offending areas.
“The Mayor is right to prioritise the cleaning up of London’s air but this is not the right way to achieve it and he should seriously consider the alternatives I have put forward*.”
David Burrowes, MP for Enfield Southgate, said:
“I welcome the implementation of the ULEZ but not the proposed extension to the North and South Circular of Outer London.
“It would not provide a positive impact on air quality or value for money. I support this report by Assembly Member Bacon which concludes that it is a blunt instrument and would deliver only marginal improvements in air quality across the expanded area.
“However, air pollution is a serious problem for my constituents in the North Circular area, demanding more action. I therefore welcome more effective measures set out in the report which target hotspot areas.”
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*The report makes eight recommendations in total:
1. For cars, vans and motorcycles, the Mayor should progress with the original ULEZ scheme, within the Congestion Charge boundaries, rather than seek to expand the scheme out to the North and South Circulars.
2. A ‘ULEZ Plus’ approach should be adopted, with enhanced measures to tackle pollution hotspot areas in London to be brought forward as quickly as possible, without being reliant on the ULEZ timetable.
3. The Mayor should put in place proposals to accelerate the increase in hybrid, hydrogen and electric buses, to ensure that all NO2 pollution hotspots are served by cleaner buses as soon as possible, using some or all of the money saved from not expanding the ULEZ boundary to the North and South Circulars.
4. The Mayor should instruct TfL to design, co-ordinate and implement freight consolidation plans for pollution hotspot areas in London as soon as practicable.
5. The Mayor should seek to expand electric vehicle use within inner and central London by all practical means, including expanding the charging infrastructure, supporting electric car clubs and bringing forward an electric vehicle hire scheme.
6. The Mayor and TfL should introduce a loan scheme to enable black cab drivers to convert their cabs to running on LPG as soon as possible.
7. The Mayor should extend the London Boiler Cashback Scheme, particularly targeted at NO2 pollution hotspot areas.
8. The Mayor should redouble efforts to achieve a diesel vehicle scrappage scheme, building on the work of the previous Mayor.
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