London mayor Sadiq Khan has announced tighter measures to bring air pollution levels in the city under control as several researches show hundreds and thousands of people, including children, succumbing to the fatal consequences of inhaling toxic air. A public consultation on the proposed measures was launched on Tuesday (5 July) to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the Clean Air Act.
Khan, in a keynote speech during the launch of the consultation, said that cleaning up London's toxic air has become a matter of "life and death", given roughly 10,000 early deaths are reported every year in London due to exposure to air pollution.
The proposed measures include a £10 ($12.9) Emissions Surcharge, dubbed the T-charge, which will be imposed from 2017 on the most polluting vehicles entering central London. The penalty will be applicable on all vehicles registered before 2005 and will be charged on top of the existing £10 per day Congestion Charge. The mayor proposed introducing the central London Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in 2019 and extending the zone beyond central London from 2020 for motorcycles, cars and vans, to the North and South Circular; and for lorries, buses and coaches across London. It is said these measures are the toughest that are being taken in any major city in the world.
Other proposed measures include developing a detailed proposal for a national diesel scrappage scheme for implementation by the government; making it mandatory for all double–decker buses to be ULEZ-compliant in central London from 2019; and implementing clean bus corridors to tackle the worst pollution hotspots.
Khan said that the Clean Air Act of 1956 "made a huge difference to life in London and saved countless lives". He said that British politicians then had acted appropriately and it was their turn now to act "for the good of Londoners and for future generations to come".
"Just as in the 1950s, air pollution in London today is literally killing Londoners. But unlike the smoky pollution of the past, today's pollution is a hidden killer. Urgent action is now needed to ensure Londoners no longer have to fear the very air we breathe.
"That's why I'm launching a hard-hitting plan of action to clean up our filthy air. Tough challenges call for tough measures, so I'm proposing a new £10 charge for the most polluting vehicles in central London from 2017, followed by an even stronger crackdown on vehicles pumping out hazardous pollutants," he said.