London air pollution targeted by mayor

6th January 2017

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Nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions are expected to be slashed in pollution hotspots after London mayor Sadiq Khan announced ten new low emission bus zones in the capital.

Only the least polluting buses that are powered by hybrid electric engines or that meet Euro VI emissions standards will be allowed in the new zones, which include roads in Stratford, Haringey and Wandsworth, under to the proposals.

NOx emissions from buses using the zones will be cut by around 84%, the mayor said. Bus priority schemes will also be introduced to give buses priority over other traffic. This should reduce emissions from idling engines and speed up journey times.

Areeba Hamid, clean air campaigner at Greenpeace, said: ‘We’re hoping [the] government will take a leaf out of London’s book and provide plans and resources so other cities can also tackle air pollution to protect everyone’s health.’

Plans for zones that restrict use of the most polluting buses have already been announced in Putney and Brixton, and are expected to be implemented this year. Brixton Road has already breached annual pollution limits for the entire year, according to data from air quality monitoring stations. Last year, Putney High Street was the first road to breach the limits.

Under EU law, people should not be exposed to levels higher than 200 micrograms of NO2 per cubic metre over the course of an hour on more than 18 occasions a year. The World Health Organization recommends no one is ever exposed to this level of pollution.

Campaigners called for further measures to reduce air pollution by reducing traffic in the capital and encouraging more walking and cycling. Air pollution is blamed for the premature deaths of more than 9,000 Londoners a year.

Last year, the mayor consulted on a package of policies to cut air pollution, including extending the ultra-low emission zone, introducing it in 2019, a year ahead of schedule, and levying a surcharge for older polluting vehicles entering the congestion charge zone. A further consultation and decision is due in the next few months.

Khan has also called on the government to support his actions by introducing a diesel scrappage scheme and reforming vehicle excise duty to encourage people to own and use the cleanest vehicles.

He said: ‘I want other cities around the world to work with me on demanding cleaner bus technology and I urge our government to take their responsibility seriously and introduce a national diesel scrappage scheme to deliver the step change we need on the dirtiest diesel vehicles.’


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