‘Phase out diesel’: Campaigners propose banning vehicle type with London ULEZ expansion

ULEZ is a 'clumsy mechanism' says former MP Stephen Pound

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London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone is set to be extended at the end of August next year and will include almost all of Greater London. The ULEZ was last changed in October 2021 when the boundary was increased to the North and South Circular roads in a bid to slash pollution rates in the capital.

Speaking at London Assembly’s Transport Committee meeting last Tuesday, a number of experts were brought together to discuss the expansion of the ULEZ.

Jemima Hartshorn, Founder of Mums for Lungs, a group that campaigns against air pollution, suggested that the expansion of the ULEZ would benefit those outside of Central London.

She said that her organisation wanted all of London to be included in the ULEZ plans in 2018.

She continued, saying: “At the same time we would like to see a commitment to phasing out diesel.

“We know that diesel is the absolute biggest culprit of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution in cities such as London. 

“That is what we would like to see a real strong incentive to discourage anyone from buying new diesels.

“Make it really clear that diesel vehicles, or cars at least, are really unwelcome in London. 

“The issue around the Euro diesel 6 was raised earlier. The reality is that a lot of the Euro 6 cars being built after the Dieselgate scandal still emit much more pollution than their legal limits.

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“They are cleaner than they were, but not clean enough.”

The Mums for Lungs organisation was set up in 2017 in Brixton and have been instrumental in setting up School Streets.

There are over 500 School Streets across London and place temporary restrictions on motorised traffic at school drop-off and pick-up times.

Jemima Hartshorn added: “We think it would have been a really good opportunity at this point to clarify to discourage Londoners from buying a new diesel vehicle.

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“By setting an end date and to begin a phase-out oath starting in Central London and by perhaps by 2030 or so to get rid of diesel cars.

“While the ULEZ expansion is a welcome step, we need to see what else needs to be done to get cleaner air.”

This comes as new data was released which found that the expansion of London’s ULEZ has had a limited impact on pollution in new areas.

Transport for London found no change in levels of pollutants since the last expansion in October.

However, harmful NO2 concentrations in inner London are estimated to be 20 percent lower than they would have been without the ULEZ and its expansion.

Around 94 percent of vehicles seen driving in the zone meet the strict ULEZ standards on an average day, up from 87 percent in the weeks before the zone expanded and 39 percent in 2017.

Roadside nitrogen dioxide levels in the expanded zone have also dropped by 43 percent since 2017.

The report also found that on average there were 44,000 fewer diesel cars driving in the whole zone each day – a 20 percent decrease since the weeks before the ULEZ expanded.

Commenting on the data, London Mayor Sadiq Khan, said he was proud of the progress that had been made in making the city’s air cleaner.

He added: “Today’s report shows the incredible difference that the expanded ULEZ is making after just six months. 

“We must now capitalise on this success which is why I’m consulting on expanding the ULEZ London-wide to extend the benefits of clean air to all Londoners.”

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