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Diesel vehicles should be banned from London, urges thinktank

Date: 18 July 2016   |   Author: Daniel Puddicombe

Diesel cars, vans and buses will need to be banned from London's roads within the next decade if the country is to hit its air quality targets, a leading thinktank has warned.

According to IPPR, 9400 premature deaths are caused by outdoor air pollution each year, much of which is from road transport in the capital.

While the body applauded new London mayor's Sadiq Khan's "much more radical action" on air pollution than his predecessor, Boris Johnson, the authors of the report, named Lethal and illegal: London's air pollution crisis - Harry Quilter-Pinner and Laurie Laybourn-Langton - suggested a number of local policy changes that could drive out diesel vehicles, including:

Expanding the ultra-low emission zone to cover all of inner London, and "progressively tightening" the restrictions to eventually include all cars.

"Progressively tightening" the ULEZ emissions standards for lorries, vans, buses and taxis with the aim of phasing out diesel-powered buses and taxis

Introducing new policies to promote alternative forms of transport.

The thinktank is also calling on the Government to disincentise diesel vehicles through changes to VED rate changes, while it also reccomends the Government should introduce a diesel scrapage scheme for older vehicles in order to increase the pace of transition to a diesel-free car fleet.

IPPR admitted that such a shift "would not be easy to achieve in such a short space of time, but it would not be possible".

Meanwhile, IPPR is calling on the Government to roll-out a Clean Air Act, to ensure the country's pollution targets remain once the UK leaves the European Union.

The Ultra-Low Emission Zone - first greenlit by former mayor-turned foreign secretary, Boris Johnson - is planned to be rolled-out from September 2020 and is set to cover the inner London congestion charging zone, but Khan is currently consulting on bringing forward its introduction to 2019 and also expanding its area, to cover both the North and South Circular roads.

Khan is also consulting on charging drivers of older, more polluting vehicles £10 a day on top of the congestion charge from next year in a scheme that has been dubbed the T-Charge.

"London's air is both lethal and illegal," said Harry Quilter-Pinner, researcher at IPPR. "This is a public health crisis and it should be ignored no longer. Only bold action will make the capital's air safe to breathe again."

"Our analysis suggests Khan will ultimately need to phase out diesel cars and buses in order to reach legal compliance."