Boris Johnson’s 2012 campaign has claimed the third phase of London’s Low Emission Zone is being “imposed” on the capital “by Europe” and says the Mayor is helping drivers “beat new EU fees” with his recently announced deal for discounts on new vans and minibuses.
The comments came in a newsletter for Johnson’s re-election campaign which claims he “succeeded in delaying the new fees by two years during the worst years of the recession but they are now being imposed by the EU.”
Vehicles driving within the London-wide zone, which was established in 2008 by Transport for London under former Mayor Ken Livingstone, must comply with European emissions standards for Particulate Matter (PM) or pay a daily charge.
As implied by the newsletter, the Zone’s third phase was due to come into effect in 2010 however Mayor Johnson delayed implementation claiming it would “clobber London’s small businesses, the backbone of the capital’s economy, with a bill that in the current economic climate could put many of them out of existence.”
The Mayor subsequently announced the third phase, which applies to vans and minibuses, would come into effect next January.
Despite his campaign seeking to portray the scheme and penalties as measures being “imposed by Europe”, Johnson’s own Air Quality Strategy document highlights it as one of several “strong initiatives” which “are already working well” in tackling air pollution.
The section covering implementation of the third phase makes clear it is “The Mayor” who “will introduce emissions standards for PM for heavier LGVs and minibuses” and that he would introduce “a further tightening of emission standards” in 2015 to “deliver further benefits for air quality”.
The Mayor’s strategy also made clear he would “consider supporting” London’s councils who wanted to introduce local emissions zones.
The election newsletter claims non-compliant vehicles will be subject to “new EU fees” of £100 per day – the level of Transport for London’s daily charge for polluting vehicles.
When asked to confirm what happened to any charges payable under the scheme, a Transport for London spokesperson told this site all monies went to paying the Zone’s running costs and no money was transferred outside of TfL.
The spokesman said: “Money collected from penalties and daily charges from the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) contribute to the operating costs of the scheme.
“The LEZ does not make any net revenue and this is in keeping with aim of the scheme which is to deliver a reduction in air pollution, rather than raise income for TfL. TfL would prefer operators to meet the emissions standards rather than pay any charges or risk fines.”
During the 2008 Mayoral election Johnson claimed money from the scheme would “be sluiced into the Mayor’s funds like the £55 million he takes in fines from the congestion charge.”
Accused of failing to back the scheme, Johnson’s then campaign insisted he was “pro the LEZ but anti the way it has been brought in.”
Last month the Mayor sought to blame drivers in France for air pollution in the capital.