London could have the “world’s first” Ultra Low Emission Zone under new plans proposed by the Mayor Boris Johnson.
The move would bring in new rules allowing only zero or low emission vehicles into central London during working hours by 2020. The Mayor believes this would deliver “dramatic benefits” in air quality and increase further development and mass take-up of low emission vehicles.
However, the next phase of London’s low emission zone, due to be implemented in 2015, will no longer include all HGVs, buses and coaches as initially planned. The Mayor said this would save £350 million in costs for businesses using vehicles that would have been affected by the changes. He also announced a £20 million fund that will be spent on a scheme to help London’s boroughs to tackle air quality hotspots.
Mr Johnson said: “Creating the world’s first big city ultra low emission zone has the potential to be a game changing moment in the quality of life of our great capital. My vision is a central zone where almost all the vehicles running during working hours are either zero or low emission. This would deliver incredible benefits in air quality and stimulate the delivery and mass use of low emission technology.”
Transport for London is expected to start preparing for a public consultation on an ultra low emission zone.
Environmental group Friends of the Earth however claims 2020 is “far too late” for the Mayor’s plans. London Campaigner Jenny Bates said: “EU pollution limits are supposed to be met by 2015. Boris Johnson must take action by slashing traffic levels in the city through better public transport and encouraging more Londoners to get on their bikes. The Mayor should also pull the plug on short-sighted plans for new Thames river crossings, which will simply add to the capital’s dangerously unhealthy poor air quality.”