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Southwark calls for more ambitious action on air quality


04 November 2014
ULEZ Southwark has joined forces with three other inner-London Labour councils to lobby Transport for London (TfL) to dramatically expand and advance its proposals to improve air quality in the capital and see-off possible fines from the EU.

TfL’s plans to create an Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) across central London, in order to reduce polluting exhaust fumes and thereby improve health and avoid a projected £300million EU fine, were put out to public consultation last week. 

Among these proposals are plans to charge vehicles that do not meet new ULEZ emissions standards upon entering the ULEZ - which roughly follows the current congestion charge boundary - from 2020.

But Southwark, along with Hackney, Camden and Lambeth councils, has argued these proposals do not go far enough in creating cleaner air and will not result in London avoiding heavy fines.

The councils argue that the plans are not progressive enough and that the charge may lead to polluting vehicles diverting around the ULEZ, resulting in potentially worse air quality around the zone's fringes. Under the current proposals taxis, some of the most polluting vehicles in London, would be exempt from the ULEZ. The councils have also argued that 2020 is too long to wait to establish the zone.
 
The Labour councils are calling for TfL to strongly consider widening the zone and increasing it incrementally. They have also called for TfL to:
      
Clearly ringfence funds
collected for air quality improvement and sustainable transport uses;
  • Introduce a scrappage scheme alongside the roll-out of the zone;
  • Include higher levies against more polluting vehicles;
  • Strengthen the existing Low Emission Zone so that it applies to all vehicles by 2025.
Cllr Mark Williams, Southwark’s Cabinet Member for Transport, along with representatives from Hackney, Camden and Lambeth councils, today handed the proposals to London Mayor Boris Johnson at City Hall.

Cllr Williams said: “Over 100 people in Southwark die prematurely each year from poor air quality, so we welcome TfL’s proposal for an Ultra Low Emissions Zone a necessary first step to improve the capital’s air quality.

“However, whilst we agree that the ULEZ is a significant and innovative proposal, Southwark, along with other inner-London boroughs, is concerned that the proposals do not go far enough. The current roposals will not result in EU Air Quality targets being met across London and will not address air quality hotspots outside the congestion zone.”

The UK currently faces EU infraction proceedings due to its failure to meet EU targets for nitrogen dioxide and, in London, boroughs potentially face being handed down a portion of any resulting fine by the Mayor of London.


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