The Mayor of London has announced his intention to create the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone in central London, with the aim to deliver dramatic benefits in air quality.
Boris Johnson believes that the decision will provide a major spur for the further development and mass take-up of zero and low emission vehicles.
He has asked Transport for London to prepare plans to look at introducing a scheme that would aim to ensure all vehicles driving in the centre of the capital during working hours would be zero or low emission, and the feasibility of introducing such a scheme from 2020.
The Mayor of London, Boris 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 will begin work on preparing options for a public consultation on an ultra low emission zone.
By 2020, all central London buses will be hybrid, zero emission taxis will be plying London’s streets, low emission options for freight will be available and electric cars have the potential to be in far greater use. However the Mayor recognises that more work is required and believes his proposal will act as a challenge for vehicle manufacturers to ensure more affordable and low emission technologies are in place.
Phase five of the capital’s Low Emission Zone is due to be introduced in 2015 and the Mayor has confirmed it will now only apply to Transport for London’s fleet of buses. By limiting phase 5 of the Low Emission Zone to the TfL bus fleet the Mayor expects to save around £350m in costs for businesses using vehicles that would have been affected by the changes.
A key reason for proposing changes to the Low Emission Zone is that it has emerged that Euro vehicle standards have not actually reduced NOx emissions for vehicles to the forecasted level. NO2 levels would therefore not have been reduced as planned under the original proposals for phase five. The vast majority of emissions reductions would have been made through London’s bus fleet, which is why the new package of measures will focus on these buses.
The Mayor’s new package of measures includes:
- Extra hybrid buses – to increase the number of hybrid buses in London to over 1,600 by 2016.
- New Euro Standard 6 buses – the Mayor now proposes to retire the last 900 Euro 3 buses so that all of TfL’s buses will be of Euro 4 or better for NOx emissions by the end of 2015.
- A new zero emission taxi – potential taxi designs that offer no emissions at the point of use will be explored.
- Measures to clean up construction sites – these are responsible for around 12% of London’s NOx emissions and to tackle that the Mayor will introduce a new Low Emission Zone for construction machinery.
- More energy efficiency measures – will be encouraged in homes, schools and public buildings.
The Mayor of London’s Environment Advisor, Matthew Pencharz, said: “The Mayor has put together a team that takes air quality seriously and that is why he has confirmed another £20 million will be devoted to improving local air quality. He has also brought forward a package of measures that will deliver double the emissions savings originally forecast for phase five of the Low Emission Zone, whilst saving businesses already battling through a tough economic climate from a £350 million bill.”
8th April 2019 update: The Ultra Low Emission Zone is now operational in London>