Just days after his campaign team portrayed the Low Emission Zone as an EU-imposed scheme levying “EU fines” on the capital, Boris Johnson says he’s “committed” to the scheme and other measures to improve air quality.
The remarks come in a City Hall statement in which the Mayor calls on the European Commission to introduce regulations “for tyre and brake wear” which the administration claims “will soon be responsible for more PM10 emissions in central London than vehicle exhausts.”
The statement also reveals that EC Vice President Siim Kallas, visiting the capital today, will “be asked by the Mayor’s team to consider looking at tighter emissions limits for member states”.
Echoing the Mayor’s past assertions that some pollution affecting the capital is being carried by winds from Europe, the Johnson administration is calling for action “to try and reduce levels of trans-boundary pollution.”
Johnson said: “Our Low Emission Zone, the largest in Europe, robust measures to clean up buses and taxis and a commitment to increasing cycling and electric vehicles are well documented.
“However we will also firmly but politely point out that our friends in Brussels could greatly assist us in improving the air quality of London by tightening up the limits of emissions of the member states.”
The Mayor wants the EC to reconsider standards for NO2 pollution from road vehicles which he says “are not tight enough and are a factor behind the breaking of NO2 limits in nearly every major city in Europe.”
The LEZ is operated by Transport for London and no funds raised by it are transferred outside of TfL.
Despite this, the Mayor’s campaign last week said the third phase was being “imposed” on the capital “by Europe” and claimed Johnson was helping drivers “beat new EU fees” with his recently announced deal for discounts on new vans and minibuses.
The comments were made in a newsletter from the Mayor’s re-election campaign which also told supporters he had “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.”
In fact the Mayor announced in October 2009 that the third phase, which covers to vans and minibuses, would come into effect from 2012 and not 2010 as originally planned by TfL.