Transport for London stands ground on air quality claims

8th April 2015

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Doug Mackenzie

Transport for London (TfL) is to appeal after the advertising watchdog ruled that its claim that the ultra-low emission zone would halve air pollution from vehicles was misleading.

The claim was made in an advertisement in London newspaper the Evening Standard, which stated: “Introducing the zone in 2020 will encourage the use of newer, cleaner vehicles to reduce vehicle pollution by half.”

Campaign group Clean Air in London challenged the claim, saying it only referred to particular pollutants, rather than all pollution from vehicles.

TfL argued that it had used the term “vehicle pollution” rather than listing individual pollutants in order to avoid using technical jargon in an advertisement.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) acknowledged this aim, but considered that consumers would be likely to believe that the advert referred to all types of vehicle pollution unless it was clearly stated otherwise.

The ASA’s ruling states that TfL’s claim that pollutants would be halved only referred to nitrogen oxide (NOx) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions. It excludes carbon dioxide, which is predicted to be reduced by 15% when the ULEZ is implemented, the ASA said.

Michele Dix, TfL’s managing director with responsibility for ULEZ said: “We have provided robust evidence which substantiates the claims made in the ULEZ advert and will be appealing this decision.

“Due to the complex nature of the proposals, the advert was designed to capture the most important points and avoid confusing jargon. It gave an overview of the plans, and encouraged people to visit our website for more information and to take part in a full public consultation,” she said.

CO2 is greenhouse gas rather than a legal pollutant, she added.

Clean Air in London also complained about two other aspects of the advertisement, but the ASA did not uphold these complaints.

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