Camden joins other councils in urging Boris Johnson to expand new eco zone

Left to right: Labour London Assembly member Val Shawcross, Cllr Williams, Cllr Braithwaite, Cllr Gi

Left to right: Labour London Assembly member Val Shawcross, Cllr Williams, Cllr Braithwaite, Cllr Gimson, Cllr Demirci and Labour London Assembly member Murad Qureshi. - Credit: Archant

Camden’s environment chief has teamed up with councillors from three other London boroughs to call on Mayor of London Boris Johnson to expand his plans to create the world’s first “ultra low emission zone” (ULEZ) in London.

The Mayor and Transport for London (TfL) started a public consultation last month on plans to charge drivers of the most polluting vehicles £12.50 a day, in addition to the congestion charge, to enter central London by 2020.

The proposals aim to halve the levels of toxic fumes – nitrogen oxide and particulate matter – emitted by vehicles in the capital to protect public health and avoid incurring huge fines for exceeding European Union (EU) air pollution limits.

Last week, Camden councillor Sally Gimson joined Cllr Feryal Demirci, from Hackney Council, Cllr Mark Williams, from Southwark Council, and Cllr Jennifer Braithwaite, from Lambeth Council, to hand added proposals for the ULEZ to City Hall.

Cllr Gimson, cabinet member for sustainability and environment, said: “We welcome TfL’s proposal as a starting point for improving London’s air quality.

“However, Camden, along with Hackney, Lambeth and Southwark, do not think that the ULEZ proposals go far enough.

“The proposed scheme will not result in EU air quality targets being met across London, and so we are asking for more.”

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The four-council alliance believes the ULEZ plans do not go far enough to improve air quality and fear polluting vehicles will be diverted around the zone, resulting in potentially worse air quality around its fringes.

The councils have also raised concerns that taxis are exempt, while claiming there is no information on how funds from charging will be used and there are no scrappage schemes or initiatives for non-compliant vehicles.

They also insist 2020 is too long to wait to establish the zone. Now the four councils want TfL to:

- Widen the zone.

- Ring-fence funds collected for air quality improvement and sustainable transport uses

- Introduce higher levies against more polluting vehicles, to gradually phase out diesel engines

- Introduce a scrappage scheme

- Include exemptions within the ULEZ when it would cause business hardship

- Strengthen the existing Low Emission Zone (LEZ) so that it applies to all vehicles by 2025.