The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, unveiled yesterday (5th July) a hard-hitting action plan to reduce air pollution across the city. Proposed strategies for the Clean Air Action Plan include a £10 Emissions Surcharge from 2017 for heavily polluting vehicles, on top of the Congestion Charge, and an early launch of central London’s Ultra-Low Emission Zone in 2019, with a city-wide Ultra-Low Emission Zone to follow in 2020.
The plan, which was launched to tie in with the 60th anniversary of the Clean Air Act, aims to tackle what Khan calls the “pollution public health emergency” facing Londoners. His policies, which are the toughest on polluting vehicles in any major city worldwide, draw attention to 9,500 city residents who die early each year due to health conditions caused by air pollution. “Just as in the 1950s, air pollution in London today is literally killing Londoners,” Khan said. “But unlike the smoky pollution of the past, today’s pollution is a hidden killer.”
Other Clean Air Act initiatives would see cleaner buses operating on the dirtiest routes, and a government-wide national diesel scrappage scheme. Khan’s proposals have been applauded by Great Ormond Street Hospital, Asthma UK, the British Lung Foundation, London Councils and the New West End Company.
Khan visited Great Ormond Street Hospital to see first-hand the effects of air pollution on children with existing respiratory conditions. The hospital, which has a specialist ward for respiratory treatment, has implemented its own clean air zone to improve local air quality. “The Mayor’s drive to clean up the capital’s air is fantastic news for our patients and staff,” said Dr. Peter Steer, Chief Executive of Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust. “Children living in highly polluted areas are four times more likely to have reduced lung function in adulthood, yet improving air quality has been shown to halt and reverse this effect.”
The public has until Friday 29th July to give initial feedback on the Clean Air Action Plan, with the next stage of the consultation due this autumn.