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  • New London mayor commits to improving air quality

    The newly elected mayor of London has said improving the British capital’s air quality will be one of his top priorities. Sadiq Khan’s first policy announcement after winning the election in May was to increase the size of London’s clean air charging zone and impose an additional charge on the most polluting vehicles.

    Khan, who has been diagnosed as an asthma sufferer, said he had been ‘elected with a clear mandate to clean up London’s air – our biggest environmental challenge’. A study last year found that around 9,500 premature deaths are reported in London each year.

    The mayor launched public consultation on introducing an ultra low emissions zone (ULEZ) covering a bigger area than the current zone in which the city’s congestion charge is levied. His plans mean around 2.5 million of the oldest and highest-emitting vehicles will pay an additional fee of €16 in addition to the congestion charge.

    Bridget Fox, of T&E’s British member organisation Campaign for Better Transport, 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.’

    T&E said the ULEZ should only exempt genuinely clean diesels, such as those that emit less than 60mg of NOx per km on the road and meet the particle number limit.

    London city hall also announced that the new mayor will be directly involved in the renewed action by environment advocate ClientEarth which, in April, was granted permission to take the UK government back to court over its failure to tackle illegal levels of air pollution in Britain.

    The change of mayor from Boris Johnson (Conservative) to Khan (Labour) also unearthed a report which Johnson had not published, showing that, in 2010, 433 schools in London were in areas where EU limits for NO2 pollution are regularly exceeded. The schools were mostly in disadvantaged areas.