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London mayor tells Theresa May - introduce national diesel scrappage scheme

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan

The London mayor has warned the Prime Minister the UK will fail to meet its legal obligations on air quality unless the Government signs up to a series of major interventions including a national diesel scrappage fund, new low emission zones across the UK and a clean air act.

Sadiq Khan (pictured) has written to Theresa May to tell her she has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the quality of the air in London and across the country when the Government publishes its draft Air Quality Plan, which the High Court has ruled must be published by April 24.

In his letter to May, the mayor calls on the Government to:

 

  •          Introduce a national diesel scrappage fund – to help drivers who bought diesel cars in good faith. He has previously written to the chancellor proposing a targeted, fully-costed, city-led, time-limited approach.

 

  •         Introduce ultra-low emission zone-style schemes, where needed, in other towns and cities. Yesterday the mayor launched a consultation on introducing the ULEZ in central London in April 2019 - 17 months earlier than previously planned. He also set out plans to expand the ULEZ up to the north / south circular roads for all vehicles (except taxis) from 2021 and across the whole of Greater London for buses, coaches and lorries from 2020.

 

  •          Take action to ensure that national policies send the right messages to consumers. Vehicle excise duty (VED) and other fiscal incentives continue to encourage the purchase of diesel cars – and they need to be amended.

 

  •          Draft new legislation including a clean air act. It should provide a legally enforceable right to clean air for all citizens and the Government should introduce new powers to better regulate all emissions sources, not just road transport. For example, London needs additional powers to manage emissions from the river and construction sites.

 Khan said: “The Government must play a full part if we are to protect the health of our fellow citizens and achieve legal air quality limits as quickly as possible. It is a national problem which requires national action, and the Prime Minister has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the quality of the air in the capital and across the country.

"I am doing all I can in London - but the only way we can make our lethal air safe is if the Government commits to the major measures experts agree are necessary to tackle this incredibly serious issue.”

The letter to Theresa May in full

Letter to the PM

Dear Theresa,

I saw your comments in the press today about the Government’s forthcoming draft Air Quality Plan, which the High Court has ruled must be published by 24 April, and the need for this to reflect the fact that past governments encouraged people to buy diesel cars.
 
As you will be aware, yesterday I launched my consultation on introducing the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in central London in April 2019 - 17 months earlier than previously planned. I also set out my plans to expand the ULEZ up to the north / south circular roads for all vehicles (except taxis) from 2021 and across the whole of Greater London for buses, coaches and lorries from 2020.
 
While the ULEZ is expected to reduce road transport NOx emissions by 50% in central London, it is not enough by itself to achieve legal compliance with nitrogen dioxide (NO2) limits. I am doing everything I can to address this public health crisis, but the Government needs to play its full part if we are to protect the health of our fellow citizens, achieve legal limits as quickly as possible, reduce the numbers of vulnerable people exposed to pollution and manage this in a way which does not unfairly penalise people who bought diesel cars in good faith.
 
I understand from reports that 35 towns and cities across Britain will be required to take further action to tackle the poor quality of their air by the new air quality plan – with up to 10 of the most polluted cities being asked to implement ULEZ-style schemes which include cars. However, I want to be clear that this action alone will not be enough to bring the UK back into legal compliance as quickly as possible, or to truly tackle the problem of air pollution. This is a national problem requiring national action and support.
 
That is why I am calling on the Government to introduce a national vehicle scrappage fund – to help drivers who bought diesel cars in good faith. I have written to the chancellor proposing a targeted, fully-costed, city-led, time-limited approach which simplifies administration for Government. The total cost of this in London over a two-year period would be £515 million. As the economic cost of the health impacts associated with air pollution in London is estimated to be up to £3.7 billion a year, this is clearly good value for money.
 
However this by itself - while taking us much closer to making the air we breathe safe - will not be enough. It is imperative that national policies also send the right messages to consumers. Unfortunately vehicle excise duty (VED) and other fiscal incentives continue to encourage the purchase of diesel cars – and need to be amended.
 
New legislation, like a 21st Century Clean Air Act, could provide the overarching framework for action. It should provide a legally enforceable right to clean air for all citizens and the Government should introduce new powers to better regulate all emissions sources, not just road transport. For example, London needs additional powers to manage emissions from the river and construction sites.
 
For too long politicians have ignored the very real health impacts of air pollution. These range from reduced lung function in children, aggravating asthma in adults, to causing dementia and strokes in the old. I have made clear that I will not stand idly by as pollution impacts Londoners and will do everything I can to tackle it. I now ask you to use this once in a generation opportunity to match my ambition so we can truly the transform the quality of the air in London and across the country.

I am doing all I can - but the only way we can make our lethal air safe is if the government commits to the measures all the experts agree are necessary to tackle this incredibly serious issue.
 
Yours sincerely,

Sadiq Khan

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Comments

  • Brian the Motorman - 06/04/2017 13:03

    I'm concerned that Mr Khan thinks he is "doing all he can" in London by being so narrow minded and misleading to all concerned, with regard to the root causes of air pollution in his capital. If you discount the clean efficient modern diesel automotives in the capital then the picture looks very different. He would be better for starters, looking into easier solutions like grants to replace all inefficient polluting central heating boilers, static plant, generators and the like. Obvious he has not appetite for this when he can target the bigger vote and ego trip to tackle business and private diesel car users, not just in his urban mayor-dom but gaod the PM to take it on nationally. Poor show allround, time for a rethink!

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  • Rob Chisholm, Applewood Vehicle Finance Ltd - 06/04/2017 13:12

    And so another single issue politician barges into the china shop and wrecks everything without a second thought for the longer term economic impact to users and the market in general. I remind Mr.Khan that it was the Government of which he was a member that encouraged the use of diesel cars. I would also challenge him on the scale of the issue at hand - he is focussing on a target whilst ignoring the great strides that have been made to clean up the air we breathe. His bed-fellows Greenpeace were caught out exaggerating the problem only a few months ago.

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  • MM - 06/04/2017 18:57

    " the clean efficient modern diesel automotives in the capital" ..... the clean diesels do not exist! Post VW dieselgate emission tests performed on Euro 6 ( the latest) diesel cars revealed typical Nox emissions of 480 microgram/ km limit, a multiple of 6 times the euro 6 limit. Petrol cars were typically below a more stringent limit of 60 micrograms / km. This is the problem , the diesel car simply does not meet the promised standard of emission control. a single eu6 diesel emits toxic Nox equivalent to 10 eu6 petrol cars

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