The London Assembly has called for “far-reaching” action to combat air pollution in the capital, in response to the introduction of the landmark Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ).
Tasked with scrutinising the activity of the Mayor of London, the 25-member elected London Assembly acts as a check and balance to the powers of Sadiq Khan and his successors.
The ULEZ, which came into effect on 8 April, is the world’s toughest vehicle emissions standard and will be in operation all year round, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
It is part of the wider commitment of the capital to reduce air pollution, and business fleets in particular will incur hefty costs if they do not meet the new emissions standard; lorries, buses, coaches, and other heavy duty vehicles will be charged £100 a day if they exceed the toxic air limits set.
Caroline Russell AM, Chair of the London Assembly Environment Committee, welcomed the launch of the ULEZ.
She said: “It’s worrying that we can’t take the air we breathe for granted. That is why we pushed for the Ultra Low Emission Zone to encourage more people to look for cleaner, greener ways to travel and to drive out polluting vehicles from our choking city.
“Air pollution is having a very real and serious effect on the health and everyday lives of Londoners. Far-reaching action is needed.
“We have argued that the expansion should go faster and further, and the launch is a welcome first step.”
The need for the expansion to go faster and further is the majority view; there were some from the Conservatives and Brexit Alliance Group who voiced their opposition; the former were concerned about the impact of proposals to widen ULEZ beyond the Congestion Charge Zone.
The Brexit Alliance Group wanted the ULEZ to target areas that have pollution levels above WHO levels.
This is not the end for low emission zones in London. There will be expansion to the North and South Circular that will cover light vehicles and come into effect in 2021.