Mayor of London backs national diesel car scrappage scheme

10 September 2014

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has renewed calls for scrapping the most polluting diesel cars and giving drivers cash incentives to switch to cleaner vehicles as part of the evidence he gave to the Environmental Audit Committee today.


The Mayor is supporting proposals for the Government to help motorists by offering between a £1,000 and £2,000 grant per vehicle for the most polluting diesels which are more than 12 months old.


The Mayor called this a brilliant opportunity to support the British car industry and promote the early uptake of ultra low emission vehicles.


Charging more-polluting diesel cars is a key part of the Mayor’s proposals for an Ultra Low Emission Zone, which will be introduced in central London from 2020 (subject to consultation). However, the Mayor believes that it is only fair that Government provides support to people who have bought these vehicles in good faith to switch to cleaner alternatives.


The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is set to take London two-thirds of the way to compliance with EU limit values for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and will encourage all vehicles in central London to be ultra low or zero emission from 2020.


It is key part of his newly published Transport Emission Road Map which sets out how London could meet EU legal limits by 2020 – more than ten years ahead of the current Government projections for compliance – as long as the European Commission and Government commit to match the Mayor’s ambitious policies.


The Transport Emission Road Map calls on Government to amend fiscal incentives, launch a national vehicle scrappage scheme and support more sustainable modes of travel. It also sets out proposals for Low Emission Neighbourhoods where new technology will be used to switch zero-emission capable buses and taxis into their zero-emission electric mode, reducing emissions in some of the most polluted parts of London where there are large numbers of people exposed.


There are also proposals to tighten the standards for the Londonwide Low Emission Zone from 2025.


The Mayor also welcomed a new comprehensive study comparing air quality in 36 world and European cities based on pollutants like particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2).


The study commissioned by the Mayor, undertaken by leading consultancy AMEC and peer-reviewed by prominent air quality experts and academics, developed three indices which ranked cities based on citywide emissions, transport-focused emissions and using a special health-weighted index.


London ranked 9th on the health impacts index, 15th on the citywide index and 17th on the traffic focused index. Vancouver is rated the city with the best air quality and Cairo or Mumbai is rated the worst.


The EU cities with the best air quality using all three indices is Stockholm.


The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “I’ve put in place the most ambitious and comprehensive set measures any world city has ever seen to tackle air pollution in London. The health and well-being of all Londoners is paramount, which is why I’m creating the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone, delivering our cleanest ever bus fleet, and I’m backing the call for financial incentives to help motorists scrap the most polluting diesels. I hope the committee today can see in London we are doing everything in our power to address air quality and with the support of government and the EU, we can accelerate the pace to meet legal limits for NO2 and ensure Londoners live in a healthy, thriving environment. Our efforts have already been recognised in a newly published study, which has ranked London's air quality 9th best out of 36 world and European cities.”


Professor Helen Apsimon; Professor of Air Pollution Studies, Imperial College London (also member of the Davies Commission Expert Advisory Panel) said: “It is good to see a systematic comparison of air pollution monitoring data assembled for different cities both in the EU and worldwide. The resulting ranking clearly shows that London is not the best or worst of the cities compared, but lies somewhere in the middle of the European cities.”


The Mayor has implemented a vast programme of air quality improvements since 2008 and the capital now meets legal limits for 8 of the 9 regulated pollutants.


The oldest and most polluting taxis have been taken off the streets, Low Emission Zone standards have been tightened and the world’s largest bus retrofit programme has helped delivered the cleanest large bus fleet in the world.


Since the Mayor was elected, half as many Londoners live in areas exceeding legal limits for NO2, emissions of harmful particulates are down by 15 per cent, and nitrogen oxides emissions are down by 20 per cent. 

Notes to editors

• The consultation on the Ultra Low Emission Zone will begin in late October, with the final scheme order being confirmed by Spring 2015.

• Supporting the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) will be a new public awareness programme called Breathe Better Together to tackle air pollution at schools and an ambitious public awareness campaign to be launched in October • The AMEC study will be available online at from 2pm on 10th September 2014.

• The Transport Emissions Road Map will be available online at from 2pm on 10th September 2014.5.


The Mayor’s programme of measures:

• The Mayor has tightened the Low Emission Zone standards for HGVs, buses and coaches and introducing new standards for large vans and minibuses. Around 150,000 vehicles needed to take action to meet these standards when they came into effect in January 2012

• He has created Europe’s largest fleet of hybrid buses, with 800 already on the road

• He has reduced emissions by retrofitting more than 900 of the oldest buses with special equipment to reduce their NOx emissions by up to 88 per cent

• He is retiring the remaining 900 oldest Euro III buses in TfL’s fleet and replacing them with super-clean Euro VI buses at a cost of £18m • He is accelerating the roll out of hybrid buses, with 1,700 to be on the road by 2016, including 600 of the iconic New Buses for London which are the cleanest and greenest bus of their type. This will be equivalent to around 20% of TfL’s bus fleet

• He has retired over 3,000 of the oldest, most polluting taxis, by introducing London’s first taxi age limits;

• All new taxis will have to be zero emission capable from 2018. Oxford Street is the kind of location where we would expect them to use this functionality. We’re exploring using the same technology (already installed on New Routemasters) to do the same for buses

• The Mayor’s £20m Mayor’s Air Quality Fund to support the boroughs in tackling local air quality hotspots is providing £330,000 to the Cross River Partnership and £100,000 to Westminster City Council in improve air quality along Oxford Street

• New measures to reduce emissions and clean up construction sites, including plans for tough new emission standards for construction equipment in 2015 and 2020 • A new Ultra Low Emission Zone for central London to come into effect by 2020 which will include Oxford Street and the surrounding roads

• He is investing almost £1 billion to improve cycling infrastructure and encourage less polluting forms of transport. The health benefits of cycling are indisputable, confirmed by numerous medical and scientific studies. Last month, for example, research by the Medical Research Council found that the health benefits gained from using the city’s Cycle Hire scheme outweigh the potential negative impacts from injuries and exposure to air pollution

• He is using the planning system to require all new development to be “air quality neutral”

• He is retrofitting hundreds of thousands of homes and public buildings with energy efficiency measures which reduce their emissions, with 400,000 already complete