Liberal Democrat mayoral candidate Caroline Pidgeon has announced plans that would see all small and medium size diesel vehicles, up to and including double-decker buses, banned from the central London congestion charge zone by 2024.
The plan will help bring down the number of people – currently around 10,000 – who die every year from the effects of poor air quality in London.
It will see private diesel cars targeted by the immediate introduction of a £2.50 surcharge to enter the congestion charge zone and the bringing forward of the existing Ultra Low Emission Zone plans to start in 2018 rather than 2020.
Black taxis will be helped to convert electric power by the bulk buying of new vehicles by City Hall which will then be leased by existing black cab drivers, and minicabs will be told to convert to low-emission non-diesel standards. City Hall buying power will also be offered to help light vans and goods vehicle operators convert to electric, hydrogen or petrol hybrid systems.
There already electric buses in the London fleet and all replacements will be of that type. Hybrid buses will be modified to operate on electric power for more of their journeys.
Caroline Pidgeon said:
“While the current Tory mayor seems content to wait until 2020 before taking any action, Liberal Democrats believe urgent measures are needed now to improve air quality across the city.
“Because it is a public health crisis, I am planning a highly aggressive programme of improvements that serves due notice to consumers and manufacturers that by 2020 we expect to restrict central London only to those vehicles that have zero or near-zero tailpipe emissions. Transport for London have already said that the vast majority of traffic entering the central London will meet the Ultra Low Emission Zone standards by 2020 so there is scope to bring forward the start date of this zone.
“Air quality in London is a national disgrace. London is facing substantial fines of around £300 million because of it. We can’t wait a minute longer to take real action.”