Decision Maker Response

Sadiq Khan’s response

Apr 5, 2019 — Dear Petitioner,

Tackling London’s lethal air and safeguarding the health of Londoners requires bold action. Air pollution is a national health crisis and the Mayor refuses to stand back as millions of Londoners breathe in air so filthy that it shortens our life expectancy, harms our lungs and worsens chronic illness.

• Thousands of Londoners die prematurely each year because of toxic air pollution.
• London’s toxic air is stunting the growth of children’s lungs in ways that will affect them for the rest of their lives.
• Toxic air pollution is a cause of cancer and it increases the risk of asthma, stroke and dementia.
• London’s toxic air crisis is also an issue of social justice as air pollution is worse in more deprived areas.

Over 400 London schools and nearly 600 inner-London NHS facilities are in areas exceeding legal limits for nitrogen dioxide, and every Londoner in the capital lives in an area exceeding World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for the most dangerous toxic particles known as PM2.5. Doing nothing is not an option and the Mayor made a manifesto commitment in 2016 to address London’s toxic air crisis.

While the Mayor is also acting on other sources, road transport is the greatest contributor to air pollution in London. There is no way to make the massive improvements needed to London’s air quality without tackling the most polluting vehicles and so this must be a focus for action.

The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is central to the Mayor’s plans to transform the air that millions of Londoners breathe. The introduction of the ULEZ follows the largest ever consultation recorded by TfL with strong support from Londoners.

To help get residents and businesses ready, the Mayor has launched a major awareness campaign which has been running for more than six months through Transport for London (TfL). TfL has spoken to over 4,500 businesses to date and is currently installing more than 300 ULEZ warning signs across central London, which will be complemented by posters across the whole TfL network, a social media campaign and adverts across print, radio and online video.

This petition incorrectly states that the Mayor will extend the ULEZ to outer London, up to the M25. This is not the case.

The ULEZ will begin in central London on 8 April 2019, in the same area as the existing Congestion Charge Zone. It will operate 24 hours a day, every day of the year. It will be expanded to include inner London, up to the North and South Circular Roads, in October 2021. There are no plans to expand the zone beyond this area to outer London. The existing Low Emission Zone for heavy commercial vehicles will be strengthened across the whole of London in October 2020.

TfL expects most vehicles to meet the ULEZ standards when it is expanded in 2021, so the majority of people will be able to drive in the zone without charge. TfL has a simple way to check whether your vehicle is affected on its website at: www.tfl.gov.uk/ulez.

The Mayor recognises that some motorists will need help switching to greener transport options, which is why he has announced £48 million funding to create scrappage schemes that help micro businesses, low-income Londoners and charities operating minibuses switch to cleaner vehicles and greener forms of transport to help clean up the city’s toxic air. The micro-businesses and charities scheme is open and can be found at: www.tfl.gov.uk/scrappage-scheme. Further details of the low-income scheme will be launched later this year, well in advance of the ULEZ expansion.

The ULEZ, and the Mayor's other measures to clean up buses and taxis, all well as investments in public transport and walking and cycling, are expected to help cut air pollution to legal levels by 2025. This means that by 2025 the number of schools in illegally polluted areas is expected to drop from over 400 to zero.

The Mayor's other actions to cut pollution include only licensing new zero emission capable taxis since the start of 2018 (no new diesel taxis are allowed). There are now 1,300 of these new clean taxis on our streets. Since last year, TfL has only purchased hybrid or zero-emission double-deck buses. Low Emission Bus Zones are also being introduced in areas where Londoners are exposed to some of the highest levels of nitrogen dioxide pollution.

Income from drivers paying the charge, after the costs of the scheme have been deducted, will be reinvested into improving the transport network. However, raising money is not the objective of the scheme. If drivers pay the charge, then they are continuing to pollute so our aim is to encourage people to walk, cycle or use public transport or upgrade their vehicle. We expect ULEZ income to reduce over time as more people upgrade to vehicles that meet the standards.

The Mayor continues to ensure public transport is an affordable option for Londoners, which is why he has introduced the Hopper fare on buses and the TfL fare freeze. He also continues to make major improvements to London's public transport network. This includes investing £2 billion each year over the next five years to grow the bus network, extend the Tube network and improve signalling, introduce new trains on the London Overground and DLR networks, and upgrade stations.

The Mayor is introducing the ULEZ to help protect children from lung damage, reduce the risk of breathing illnesses and heart disease in adults, and improve the health of people exposed to the highest levels of pollution. The ULEZ will reduce harmful road transport exhaust emissions across London. This will help London meet legal levels for air quality and make the capital an even better place to live, work and visit.

Yours sincerely,

Public Liaison Unit