Our Policy Coordinator Steve Chambers explains how London is leading the way on cleaning up air pollution but more action is needed across the country.
The proposed introduction of the ultra low emission zone (ULEZ) is undoubtedly good news for cleaning up the air in London. We know that air pollution is causing early deaths and is contributing to asthma in children. Action is needed now.
However, there are fears the timetable for introducing the ULEZ could be slipping. In 2016 the Mayor of London announced that the zone would cover all of Inner London by 2020. As part of the consultation announcement this week the expansion of the scheme to within the north and south circular roads has been delayed by a year to 2021. It will only cover the existing Central London congestion charging zone initially.
Transport for London’s consultation document shows that much of Inner London experiences air pollution at a similar level to Central London and in particular near to major roads.
We know that air pollution is causing early deaths and is contributing to asthma in children. Action is needed now.
Groups of concerned residents all over London have been taking part in citizen science experiments to monitor the level of pollution in their neighbourhoods.
The results confirm that the highest levels of illegal air pollution are found throughout London and often in close proximity to schools. As part of the King’s College EXHALE study it was found 30% of children's daily exposure to traffic pollution takes place on the way to and from school, but this can be reduced by finding a new walking route.
This problem is not unique to London. Just this week we heard that throughout the country schools are located in pollution black spots.
Tell the mayor in your consultation response to introduce the ULEZ to a faster timetable than has been announced so we can start seeing the benefits sooner
Local authorities outside London already have the powers they need to create their own low emission zones, but to date there seems to be a lack of political will to introduce them for even just the most polluting vehicles. And of course, a comprehensive approach to improving air quality must also seek to reduce car use and enable more people to walk their everyday journeys.
The introduction of Mayors for the city regions such as Greater Manchester and the West Midlands from May this year offers an opportunity to shift people out of their cars for shorter journeys.
We encourage the prospective Mayors and other city leaders to commit to creating Walking Cities.