The UK’s advertising watchdog says Transport for London and Mayor Boris Johnson misled Londoners by claiming that their Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) would “reduce vehicle pollution by half”.
TfL made the claim in an advert promoting plans to levy a daily charge on vehicles which do not meet tough EU pollution targets.
The ASA said anyone seeing the advert was likely to understand it referred to all types of vehicle pollution whereas TfL’s modelling only predicted a 50 per cent fall in NO2 emissions and a 51 per cent reduction in nitrogen oxide (NOx) vehicle emissions.
Simon Birkett, founder of Clean Air in London which complained to the ASA about the advert, said: “It is deeply troubling that the Mayor and TfL made such a seriously misleading statement in a formal advertisement that encouraged responses to the public consultation on the Mayor’s flagship policy to tackle air pollution.”
The ASA’s ruling has been welcomed by Stephen Knight, a Liberal Democrat member of the London Assembly, who said: “Today’s ruling provides further confirmation that our current Mayor is more interested in trying to hide the problem rather than clean up London’s dirty air.
“Instead of making boastful and misleading claims, it’s time the Mayor focused on taking the real steps needed to cut London’s air pollution and bring it within the legal limits set over 20 years ago.”
TfL’s Michele Dix insisted the organisation had “provided robust evidence which substantiates the claims made in the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) advert and will be appealing this decision.
She added: “The full ULEZ package is expected to cut the most harmful vehicle exhaust pollutants by more than half; NOX by 51 per cent, NO2 by 50 per cent and PM10 / PM2.5 exhaust emissions by 64 per cent in 2020.
“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.
“Once in place the ULEZ will significantly improve air quality and in turn the health of Londoners.”
Although it upheld CAL’s concerns about pollution levels, the ASA dismissed the organisation’s related complaints about the green credentials of buses and taxis operating in the zone.