Environmental campaigners have threatened legal action against Mayor of London Boris Johnson over his decision to axe the Western Extension Zone of the Congestion Charge.
Abolition of the WEZ, which was introduced by Ken Livingstone in 2007, was a manifesto commitment by the Mayor and is set to be implemented on December 24th following a public consultation.
Campaigners claim the abolishing the Zone could increase air pollution at a time when the capital is facing the threat of EU fines for exceeding the maximum levels of PM10 emissions.
Clean Air in London has written to the Mayor and Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman seeking an undertaking that Mayor will delay “implementing his decision until he can ensure air pollution is not worsened”.
Simon Birkett, Founder of Clean Air in London, insisted the action was “about defending (and improving) air quality not defending road tax.”
Birkett said his organisation had decided to issue a Letter before Action “to show how seriously it takes: the increase in air pollution that would arise if Mayor Johnson removes the WEZ without adequate mitigation; and the Government’s mistaken inclusion of the WEZ in its reapplication to the European Commission for a time extension until 2011 to comply with legal standards for dangerous airborne particles (PM10) and avoid £300m fines.”
Darren Johnson, who represents the Green Party on the London Assembly, said the decision to abolish the WEZ was “one of three backward steps the Mayor has taken which actively make a bad situation worse.”
Johnson added “He has delayed action against polluting light goods vehicles till 2012 and abandoned the six monthly inspection of black cabs, which previously led to over 2,300 taxis being taken off the road and fixed, as they polluted too much.”