Boris Johnson has published his draft air quality strategy which confirms, as first reported Sunday, that he intends to implement the third phase of the Low Emission Zone from 2012.
Johnson outraged health campaigners when in February he shelved plans to extend the scheme, which was introduced by his predecessor in 2008, to cover vans and minibuses. This phase of the scheme was originally scheduled to come into effect from 2010.
Campaigners and opposition Assembly Members say pollution in the capital contributes towards up to 3,000 deaths in London each year and have previous warned the Mayor had undermined Government efforts to prove that it could meet legally binding European Union targets to reduce air pollution in the capital.
Other measures contained in the strategy include a ban on the operation of older Taxis, a move which will require cabbies as of 2012 to replace any vehicle over 15 years old, that age limit will fall to 10 year in 2015.
Johnson has also committed himself to procuring 1,000 electric vehicles in the Greater London Authority Group by 2015.
On his decision to reverse his decision not to implement the third phase of the Low Emission Zone Johnson said the new implementation date would allow those affected “extra time in tough economic conditions to get cleaner vehicles and avoid charges”, adding he was “confident this decision will ensure greater compliance at the time we press ahead with these tougher measures.”
However Mike Tuffrey, who leads Liberal Democrat Assembly Group, accused the Mayor of “wasting” two years by delaying implementation.
Accusing Johnson of “claiming credit for something that should have never been cancelled in the first place”, Tuffrey said “due to the Mayor procrastinating we will now waste two vital years to improve London’s air quality in the run up to the Olympics.”
Green Party AM Darren Johnson said “”It looks likely that the London Mayor has landed the Government in court by his decision to delay the implementation of stage three of the Low Emission Zone until 2012. If it is needed in 2012, then it is needed now.”
“It is clear that the Mayor’s other measures to reduce particulate (PM10) emissions just won’t do enough. That is why the Mayor is talking about planting hedges and a small forest of trees at the main pollution hotspots, such as the Marylebone Road. I’m all for planting more trees and hedges but we need Boris to stop the pollution not just plant trees if we are to prevent the 3000 premature deaths in London each year”
The Mayor’s draft air quality strategy can be read at: www.london.gov.uk/mayor/environment/air_quality/