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ULEZ Starts As Two Million Still Suffering Toxic Air

02 April 2019

With Monday April 8 the date that the new London Ultra Low Emission Zone comes in to force, the latest data shows two million Londoners are living with illegal toxic air.

The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in central London will see non-compliant vehicles charged to enter the zone, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.



On a slightly positive note, so far this year, there has been a 57 per cent reduction in the number of hours recorded in which the city exceeded the 200ug/m3 limit for NO2, compared to the same period last year.

In the first three months of 2016, 43 monitoring sites in London recorded hours exceeding their legal limits for NO2, with 13 exceeding their annual limit (18 hours). So far in 2019, the figure is down to 10 monitoring sites recording hours with pollution levels above the limit. None have breached the annual limit.

Updates to the London Atmospheric Emission Inventory (LAEI) – which analyses air quality – show that between 2013 and 2016, under Mayor Boris Johnson, there were no significant improvements in harmful nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentrations in London’s air – with some areas actually getting worse.


King’s College

A recent study by King’s College London looking at the overall rate of improvement in NO2 levels across London found that, compared with legal pollution limits, if the trend of inaction seen between 2010 and 2016 continued it would take 193 years to reach legal compliance.

However, further modelling undertaken for City Hall by King’s College suggests policies to tackle air pollution, including ULEZ, could bring London’s air within legal pollution limits by 2025.


Know your ULEZ

New polling has shown that more than three-quarters of Londoners (80 per cent) now know something about the ULEZ (up from 60 per cent last August). Meanwhile, 90 per cent of drivers know something about the ULEZ scheme - even though only one in five drivers is expected to drive into the zone.

Transport for London (TfL) is continuing to work to ensure as many Londoners are aware of ULEZ as possible. It has already sent 2.5 million emails, 600,000 letters to drivers who have driven within the central London Congestion Charge Zone since last October, installed more than 300 road signs at entry points to the zone and rolled out a major advertising campaign across the entire TfL network (which will continue beyond the ULEZ launch date).

So far there have been more than 1.8 million visits to the ULEZ website and more than 3.1 million checks on TFL’S online vehicle compliance checker.



TfL has also provided advice and support to more than 6,000 fleet operators and more than 1,000 small businesses, charities and health services.


Air quality mapping

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan ha also launched an interactive map showing air quality across London, using a range of monitoring and modelling data, so Londoners can be better informed about conditions in their local area.

Khan said: "So far in my mayoralty, we've cleaned up our bus and taxi fleet and establishing the largest air quality monitoring network of any major city. The introduction of the world’s first 24-hour seven-day-a-week Ultra Low Emission Zone on April 8 2019 marks a watershed moment in our fight to clean up our filthy air."

Chair in Environmental Health at King's College London, Professor Frank Kelly, said: “London needs effective measures to improve air quality to an acceptable level at which it is not having a negative influence on health. The ULEZ is a world-leading initiative that has been designed to have the positive impact that our capital deserves.”

Chief Executive of the British Lung Foundation, Dr Penny Woods, said: “We know that air pollution can seriously impact all our health, especially children, the elderly and those with existing lung and heart conditions – there is new evidence almost weekly on the harmful effects of toxic air - so it’s good to see these strong initiatives."



Woods continued: “Walking and cycling is not just a great way to keep fit, it can help reduce your exposure and contribution to air pollution, so the interactive map is a great way for people to plan the cleanest routes for active travel. We hope to see similar schemes from other city leaders across the UK.”

To view the interactive air quality map - Click Here

The updated LEAI data is available to view via the London Datastore - Click Here

To find out more about ULEZ – including checking if a vehicle is compliant - Click Here

Picture: Pollution in London is still bad as we approach the introduction of the Ultra Low Emission Zone.

Article written by Brian Shillibeer | Published 02 April 2019


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