London’s new mayor to increase city’s clean air zone

Sadiq Khan, the new mayor of London, is getting serious about air pollution. He recently announced that he intends to more than double the size of London’s clean air zone.

If Sadiq Khan gets his way, London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) will come into force earlier than planned — and it will be substantially larger.

As the Guardian reports, the ULEZ scheme requires drivers of the 2.5 million oldest and dirtiest vehicles to pay a GBP 12.50 charge, in addition to a congestion charge, to encourage drivers to use cleaner vehicles or public transport in an effort to reduce harmful vehicle emissions.

Under Khan’s plans, the zone will more that double in size to stretch from the North Circular Road to the South Circular. In the original plan, the ULEZ only covered a small congestion zone in central London.

“I have been elected with a clear mandate to clean up London’s air – our biggest environmental challenge,” said Khan in a statement. He made his announcement at a primary school in east London situated on a busy road.

“For me it can’t be right that this school on three occasions last year has to make the call whether to allow children to play in the playground breathing in this dangerous stuff or play indoors,” he told the Guardian.

As London’s new mayor, Khan aims to bring the ULEZ into force as soon as 2019, one year ahead of the original plan of 2020. He also plans to introduce the extra charge on the most polluting vehicles by 2017.

London is notorious for its poor air quality. According to the Mayor’s office, almost 10,000 Londoners die every year because of air pollution. And new research published by the World Health Organization shows that London has already breached safe levels for harmful types of pollutant particles.

Alan Andrews of ClientEarth, which sued the UK government over high pollution levels in London and other cities, called Khan’s plan a “hugely positive announcement”.


Image credit: biggerbyfar, flickr/Creative Commons


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