The UK Government has the power to overrule Boris Johnson and reinstate stage 3 of the Low Emission Zone, according to City Hall’s own lawyers. Earlier this year the Mayor opted not to proceed with the extension of the LEZ on the grounds that it would harm small businesses who might struggle to afford new, cleaner vehicles.
The decision led to accusations by London Assembly Member Darren Johnson that the Mayor is undermining Government efforts to prove to the European Commission that it can meet legally binding targets to reduce air pollution.
In March a spokesman for the Mayor told this site the third phase of the LEZ “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 spokesman also denied claims that the Mayor was undermining the Government, stating that he “has met with the Government to discuss air quality and, far from scuppering their ability to meet the European target, he has laid out clear plans to reduce pollution in the capital.”
In a recent letter to the European Commission, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has confirmed that should Mayor Johnson “decide to suspend Phase 3 of the LEZ, we would expect him to put in place other measures that would deliver equal, if not greater, improvements to air quality.”
Last night Darren Johnson claimed there was “a strong legal case for the Government to over-rule the Mayor and insist that he proceeds with Phase 3 of the Low Emission Zone”
Referring to a recent report by the London Assembly, the AM added: ““The Mayor’s decisions to weaken both congestion charging and the Low Emission Zone have been irresponsible and disastrous for London’s environment. Air pollution in the capital may result in around 3,000 premature deaths per year and there is emerging evidence that it is having a serious impact on the long-term development of children’s lungs.”