The number of cars and the most polluting vans in central London fell sharply in the first month of the very low emission zone.
Initial figures show that in April, 9,400 fewer vehicles have gone into central London each day on average compared to March. 36,000 fewer than in February 2017 when the very low emission zone schemes were published, although many of that reduction could be attributed to drivers switching to cleaner vehicles.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said the findings showed that “bold action benefits”. Clean air campaigners said it was an important step in the fight against air pollution.
“Only a month after the world's first ULEZ was launched… we've already seen a significant impact on the types of vehicles driving in our capital and polluting our air,” said Khan. “These were big changes, and essential – our toxic air is an invisible killer responsible for one of the biggest national health crises of our generation.” T
The number of worst pollution vehicles in the zone decreased from 35,578 in March to 26,195 after the introduction of the charge. Nearly three quarters (74%) of vehicles in the zone in April complied with the new pollution restrictions, compared with 61% the previous month.
The mayor's office said it was too early to get a “clear and robust” picture of the impact of the scheme on pollution levels, and more detailed research would be released in the coming months.
“It's early days, but it's great to see the people of London and businesses doing their bit to make a difference,” says Khan.
Health campaigners welcomed the figures but said much more improvement was needed. John Maingay, of the British Heart Foundation, said: “Although this news is encouraging, it is now important that the progress in reducing the number of vehicles is not heavy on the road. stand. Rather, we need to accelerate progress by adopting the World Health Organization strict guidelines for air pollutants into UK law, encouraging comprehensive, joined-up action at a local and national level. ”
Pollution vehicles account for about half of the harmful emissions in London. Air pollution is responsible for thousands of premature deaths each year in the UK and causes chronic health problems for millions more people.
The scale of the crisis has come to the fore in recent months with research showing that air pollution is associated with a range of long-term conditions, from dementia to heart disease, asthma to cancer. Children and poorer people are disproportionately affected and it is estimated that it costs London about £ 3.7bn a year alone.
The extremely low emission zone was introduced in the capital on 8 April and operates non-stop in the congestion charging zone. Drivers of cars, vans and motorcycles are charged £ 12.50 unless their vehicles meet new emissions standards. Lorries, buses and coaches that do not meet the regulations face a charge of £ 100.
The move was widely welcomed by parent groups, doctors and environmental campaigners who say it will help to start cleaning up the capital's toxic air. But many have encouraged politicians across the country to go further.
Greenpeace UK campaigner Areeba Hamid said: “We would like to see the numbers on air quality, but the level of compliance with ULEZ shows us something important. People are prepared to make changes to improve their environment when legislation shares the responsibility fairly across society, rather than expecting individual users to take the lead. Westminster should learn from this and raise their game.
“They could start with a 2030 deadline for petrol and diesel cars, rather than waiting until 2040 when it is far too late to be useful in facing the climate crisis.” T