Mayor Sadiq Khan slams Government's air pollution plan as 'woefully inadequate'

Posted May 07, 2017

The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs published its Draft Air Quality Plan for tackling illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide.

Birmingham and Leeds have already committed to introducing Clean Air Zones by 2020 along with Nottingham, Derby and Southampton.

That doesn't mean that it won't happen in the future, but the government appears to be focusing on incentivising alternatively-fuelled vehicles (including hybrids, plug-in hybrids and fully electric cars) rather than punishing diesel drivers.

Government plans to tackle illegal air pollution should include schemes to keep dirty diesels out of towns and fine vehicle companies who cheated on emissions tests, the Green Party has urged. Vehicle manufacturers have an important part to play within the framework of the quality of air, according to the United Kingdom government.

It also said central funding for local measures like redesigning roads and improving infrastructure for walking, cycling and electric vehicles could be an option, as well as reductions to motorway speed limits and expansions to clean air zones.

"There needs to be a national network of clean air zones which prevent the most polluting vehicles from entering the most illegally polluted streets in our towns and cities".

Around 40 local authorities in England will breach pollution limits "for some years ahead" unless action is taken, Defra said.

Non-charging clean air zones should involve "engaging and informing the community to ensure they understand the importance of good air quality, the choices available to them, the impacts they make and how these contribute to a successful zone", said the framework.

Environmental groups and politicians have said the government's clean air plans are "feeble" and lack detail.

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"The Government is consulting on a range of measures that could be taken to mitigate the impact of action to improve air quality".

Lucas said the government has been a "catastrophic failure" when it comes to air pollution.

Air pollution is linked to an estimated 40,000 early deaths a year and 37 out of 43 areas across the United Kingdom are exceeding legal European Union limits for key pollutant nitrogen dioxide, much of which comes from diesel engines. If the Government is swayed on the viability of a scrappage system, it would represent a U-turn on diesel vehicles, after years of policy and tax enablers saw diesel auto sales in Britain increase from 14% to 36%.

It remains to be seen whether the present Plan will be approved of as being in line with public health requirements and the consequent obligations of the Government.

A long-awaited Government plan to tackle illegal air pollution is "toothless and wholly inadequate", London Mayor Sadiq Khan has warned.

However, Clean Air Zones proposals "are not required to include a charging zone".

Measures also include tackling road humps and poorly managed traffic lights that increase congestion and pollution, "real driving emissions" tests for vehicles and better consumer advice when buying cars. Under the French system, drivers trading in a diesel vehicle over 13 years old will receive £2,765 discount towards an electric auto or £1,868 towards a plug-in hybrid.

The Government's report on the plan reads: "Clean Air Zones improve the urban environment to support public health and the local economy, making cities more attractive places to live, work, do business and spend leisure time".