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ulez consultationThe Mayor of London's consultation about measures to reduce levels of toxic air pollution originating from petrol and diesel vehicles ends on 28th February.  If you, like me, think that the proposals won't provide adequate protection for people living outside the North and South Circular Roads - and will be even more injurious to the health of people living along those roads - you need to respond to the online consultation before that date.

The proposals are explained on the following page of the Transport for London website:

consultations.tfl.gov.uk/environment/air-quality-consultation-phase-3b

The web page summarises the proposals and the reasons behind them, but also provides links to more detailed information.  The main thrust of the arguments is the need to reduce exposure to two pollutants produced by road transport:

  • Nitrogen dioxide (NO2): At high concentrations, NO2 causes inflammation of the airways. Breathing in high levels of NO2 over a long period of time is associated with an increase in symptoms of bronchitis in asthmatic children and reduced lung development and function
  • Particulate matter (PM): Breathing in high levels of PM over a long period of time contributes to the risk of developing cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, including lung cancer. Research shows that small particles (those with a diameter of 10 microns and smaller) – PM10 – are likely to be inhaled deep into the respiratory tract.  The health impacts of the smallest particles (those with a diameter of 2.5 microns or smaller) – PM2.5 – are especially significant, as smaller particles can penetrate even deeper.

The proposals are for a staged tightening of the emissions standards for cars, lorries and buses and a gradual extension of the scheme outwards from the current central London Congestion Zone, as summarised in this infographic (LEZ = Low Emissions Zone, ULEZ = Ultra-Low Emissions Zone, T-Charge = Toxicity Charge):

ULEZ infographic

As can be seen from the infographic, even in 2021 there would be no charges designed to discourage drivers of highly polluting cars, whether diesel or petrol, using roads outside the area bounded by the North and South Circs.  And crucially, this also goes for the North Circular itself, meaning that residents in the new housing along Bowes Road, and children at Bowes and Broomfield schools, will continue to be exposed to particularly high concentrations of the toxic gases and particulates.

Clearly, the proposals would reduce pollution from lorries, buses and light commercial vehicles throughout Greater London.  However, in outer London cars, not lorries or buses, predominate. Furthermore, emissions from modern buses and lorries are actually lower than from modern cars, despite the fact that they have more powerful engines.  This is because standards are based on testing in real conditions, which is not the case for cars - even if we discount the trickery practised by VW and other car manufacturers, and the many cars on the road which have had particulate filters illegally removed.

To ease the impact on car owners, the Mayor of London is campaigning for a government-funded diesel car scrappage scheme.

Where do the local parties and groups stand on these issues?

Without going into great detail, the position of local parties can be summarised as follows:

Labour group on Enfield Council: Their position (and that of the Council) is that the ULEZ should be extended to cover the whole of Enfield.

Conservative group on Enfield Council: The Conservative group opposes the extension of the ULEZ even as far as the North Circular Road, arguing that doing so would penalise Enfield motorists paying visits to the North Middlesex Hospital.

Enfield Liberal Democrats: I've been unable to ascertain their view from their website (apologies if it is on the website and I just failed to find it).

Enfield Green Party: Enfield Green Party's view is that the Mayor's proposals are not tough enough.  They would like the ULEZ to cover the whole of Greater London out as far as the M25.  They fully support the detailed responses developed by Green Assembly Member Caroline Russell (see below).

Better Streets for Enfield: BSfE agree that the ULEZ should be London-wide and cover all vehicles - see the BSfE website.

How to respond

I'm personally in favour of a London-wide ULEZ, a faster introduction of the zones and fewer exemptions or reduced charges for particular categories of driver or vehicle. Although this would be problematical for many drivers, I think that the ever increasing evidence of the serious harm caused by diesel and petrol emissions means that we would be doing a grave disservice to the capital's people - especially children - if we did not act quickly.

The proposals are quite complex and some thought needs to be given to how to respond.  My recommendation would be a submission along the same lines as that written by Caroline Russell of the Green Party, who is a member of the Greater London Authority's Transport Committee.  Her draft submission is on the GLA website.  One of the points she makes is that rather than a fixed daily charge for driving in the ULEZ, it would be preferable to implement a smarter road pricing scheme, with charges based on the time of day, distance travelled and level of vehicle emissions.

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Basil Clarke's Avatar
Basil Clarke posted a reply #3627 14 Feb 2018 20:38
Just how bad is the air pollution problem in London, what are its sources (transport is only one, though a very significant one), what are its effects, what can be done to improve matters? These questions are covered in a new publication from London Councils, Demystifying Air Pollution in London.

www.londoncounc...node/33224

In the article about the Ultra-Low Emissions Zone consultation, I argued that, while concentrating on lorries and buses seems logical, because of their weight and powerful engines, they actually pose a smaller threat than diesel cars, because a modern bus produces a fraction of the toxic emissions produced by a diesel car. This seemingly illogical situation stems from the fact that bus and lorry emissions are tested in "real-life" conditions, whereas cars only have to pass tests carried out under artificial and unrealistic conditions. The London Councils publication has a graphic which illustrates this very clearly:



Here are some more graphics from the London Councils report.







Karl Brown's Avatar
Karl Brown posted a reply #3638 21 Feb 2018 12:43
Dr Gary Fuller of Kings College is profiled in this weeks press and comes out with one of those mind-bending statistics that stops you in your tracks. The average London (that’s us) loses 4 ½ hours of life for every week they (you) live in London due to the air. So every week, imagine writing off the time between broadly breakfast and lunch as dead time. He’s an air quality scientist (HMG’s expertise is located at Kings).
Why not fill in the consultation on extending the Ultra Low Emission Zone to as far as the north of Enfield now.

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