Mayor more than doubles funding to clean up London’s air

07 December 2016


·         New TfL Business Plan more than doubles spending on tackling air quality – from £425m to £875m over five years. 

·         Mayor’s plans include extending the world first Ultra Low Emission Zone, and introducing a transformed cleaner London bus fleet.

·         The Mayor says the onus is now on the Government to prove they share his ambition


The amount of money committed to tackling the Capital’s air quality crisis will be more than doubled over the next five years, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has confirmed today.

Ahead of the publication of the draft Transport for London (TfL) Business Plan later this week, the Mayor has announced that £875m will be invested in action to improve the quality of the Capital’s air through to 2021/22, dwarfing the £425m committed by the previous mayor.  

The Mayor is clear that ambitious and decisive action is needed to clean up the air in London. Each year 9,400 deaths occur in the Capital which can be attributed to air quality related illnesses. London does not meet legal requirements for Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) and 474 of the Capital’s schools are in areas where safe levels are being breached.  ‎

Today Sadiq Khan said he wanted London to be a 'world leader' in tackling toxic air and challenged ministers to 'prove they share my ambition.' 

The Mayor is proposing a range of far-reaching programmes to tackle the threat to health from poor air, enhancing the quality of life across the Capital. This includes:

·         Launching the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ).  The Mayor is seeking views of Londoners on plans to introduce ULEZ early (from 2019), extending it to the North and South Circulars for all vehicles, and London-wide for lorries, coaches and buses potentially from 2019.

·         Consulting on the Emissions Surcharge (dubbed the ‘T-Charge), which will remove older polluting vehicles from central London, involving £22m of direct investment.

·         Introducing five Low Emission Neighbourhoods, spanning eight boroughs and involving a range of local businesses, with the Mayor and TfL contributing £5m.  In addition, the Mayor's Air Quality Fund will continue and provide £9m to take targeted action to tackle some of the worst pollution hotspots across London.


Many parts of London are in breach of legal limits for NO2 and are not currently forecast by Government to meet them until 2025. This is why the Mayor is committed to going further and faster than the original plans for ULEZ, delivering health benefits sooner.  

The full ULEZ package, including all associated measures such as rapid charging points, will see £610m of investment overall. As part of this investment, the Mayor has challenged TfL to be bold and act fast in greening its own fleet.  London’s buses will be transformed in the coming years with:

·         The implementation of at least 12 Low Emission Bus Zones – the first two going live on Putney High Street in February next year, with the next one following in Brixton and Streatham in October 2017

·         The phasing out of diesel-only buses and a commitment to purchase only hybrid or zero-emission double decker buses from 2018

·         TfL committing to meeting the ULEZ standards for double decker buses a year earlier than previously planned, so that the 3,100 double-decker buses operating in the zone will be Euro VI hybrid in 2019.  All 300 single-decker buses operating in central London will be zero emission by 2020.


The Mayor is also working with City of Westminster to make Oxford Street more pedestrian friendly and improve air quality and safety. Proposals have recently been published to start reducing the number of buses running along Oxford Street. More details about the plans for the street itself will be published next year.

The taxi and private hire trades will also play their part, with all new black cabs licenced after 1 January 2018 having to be zero-emission capable and no new diesel taxis allowed.  Financial support from a £65m fund will be provided to help decommission taxis more than 10 years old and to encourage early adoption amongst the taxi trade. All new minicabs (those under 18 months old) will need to meet the same standard when licenced after 1 January 2020, with every private hire vehicle having to meet this standard when brought forward for licencing from 1 January 2023.


Alongside this bold and wide-ranging programme, the Mayor is calling on the Government to get a grip and take immediate action to address the huge environmental challenges facing the Capital.  The Mayor would like to see Government match his ambition and introduce a national diesel scrappage scheme, implement a 21st century Clean Air Act, reform Vehicle Exercise Duty – making it less attractive to buy polluting cars, and give London the additional funding and powers it needs to tackle the public health emergency.

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, said:

“With nearly 10,000 Londoners dying early every year due to air pollution, tackling poor air quality is a public health emergency that requires bold action. I want London to be a world leader in how we respond to the challenge of cleaning up our air, and today I’m announcing that TfL will be doubling spending on improving London’s air over the next five years. In taking action such as setting up for the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone and purchasing only hybrid or zero-emission buses I’m ensuring that tackling air quality becomes a central part of how our transport network operates.


“London’s air quality continues to breach legal levels, which is why I have taken this unprecedented action. The onus is now on the Government to prove that they share my ambition. By funding a national diesel scrappage scheme and reforming vehicle excise duty the Government could also prove that they understand the enormity of our air quality emergency.”


Tom Platt, Head of Policy at Living Streets, said: “This is a really positive step by the Mayor to tackle air pollution and create a healthier, more liveable city. These measures, together with plans to transform Oxford Street, reduce vehicle dominance and encourage more children to walk and cycle to school will improve the quality of life for everyone living and working in London.”  

Dr Samantha Walker, Asthma UK’s Director of Research and Policy, said: “It is clear that action is needed and we welcome the extra investment to help clean up the air we breathe.

 “Two thirds of people with asthma tell us poor air quality can make their symptoms worse, meaning they are at much greater risk of a life-threatening asthma attack. And there is strong evidence linking air pollution with the development of asthma in the first place. For some of the 600,000 people in London with asthma, seemingly simple tasks like going to the shops, school or commuting to work can leave them battling to breathe on days of high air pollution.”

Michael Smith, Managing Director, Brixton Business Improvement District, said: "Brixton BID supports fully the Mayor of London's efforts to clean London's air, with the implementation of 12 Low Emission Bus Zones in London including Brixton and Streatham. Brixton BID is proud to be working with Transport for London and the Mayor of London to make Brixton brighter, cleaner, greener."

Jace Tyrrell, Chief Executive, New West End Company, said: “It is vital for the West End to provide the best experiences for visitors, workers and residents alike – and improving air quality is central to delivering this. The issue is clearly at the centre of the Mayor’s agenda for London and we fully support the measures he is taking.

 “Collaboration across London is key to reducing pollution levels and New West End Company is committed to helping businesses throughout the district address the issue. Our air quality strategy offers businesses a platform to do this by consolidating delivery traffic, reducing personal deliveries and improving energy efficiency, amongst other initiatives. 

 “We need to ensure the West End and capital as a whole becomes a best-in-class example for improving air quality. We look forward to contributing to this and making London a better city for everyone.”    

Leah Davis, acting director of Green Alliance, said: “This injection of funding is a welcome contribution to cleaning up London’s dirty air. It will help to make delivery of the Mayor’s commitments on air quality possible. And we are encouraged to see measures that we have championed with our NGO partners, like tackling air pollution hotspots, receiving support.”

Penny Alexander, Chief Executive of the Baker Street Quarter Partnership BID, said: “We welcome the Mayor’s bold plans for tackling the city’s poor air quality. Businesses in our area recognise that air quality is a significant issue and are working with us to address this.

“As part of the Marylebone Low Emissions Neighbourhood we have a range of initiatives underway including waste and delivery consolidation, anti-idling and personal delivery campaigns that aim to reduce congestion and emissions. Improving London’s air quality needs to be a unified effort and we’re pleased to see the Mayor is giving it the commitment it deserves.” 

Nicola Grant, Putney Town Centre Manager, Wandsworth Council, said: “We are delighted that Putney High Street will be home to one of the first low bus emission zones, used by the city’s greenest buses. Real lasting improvements to air quality are a priority for the community.

“The Mayor’s commitment to doubling spending on improving London’s air quality is greatly welcomed as tackling poor air quality is vital in making London’s high streets better places to work, live and visit.”

Chief Executive of Marble Arch BID, Kay Buxton, said: “We are pleased that the Mayor is committed to tackling London’s air quality crisis.

“Tackling toxic air is an important priority for our members in maintaining our area’s attractiveness and competitiveness. This why we have been working closely with partners on the Marylebone Low Emission Neighbourhood, which will deliver a whole range of green innovations that will help deliver cleaner air and a greener city.”

Simon Loomes, Strategic Projects Director at The Portman Estate, said, "We are delighted that Marylebone has been selected by the Mayor as a key priority for tackling air quality.  The Low Emission Neighbourhood status has brought together the key partners, both private and public, to work towards the singularly important goal of cleaner air.  We aim to use this inclusive approach to help solve this complex problem.  With the Mayor’s endorsement and financial support we now need to get down to the hard graft of delivering on our commitment."    

Leon Daniels, TfL’s Manager Director of Surface Transport, said: “This significantly increased investment gives us the means to tackle what is increasingly recognised as one of the key the challenges of our age.

“Our investment will be in measures that give us the biggest impact and achieve the greatest reductions in emissions.  Our proposals seek support from Londoners in reducing use of the most polluting vehicles and, in the years ahead, we will carry out a green transformation of our own – dramatically greening the bus fleet among many other measures.”

Notes to editors

TfL’s Draft Business Plan will be considered by the TfL Board at its next meeting on 15 December.

Five Low Emission Neighbourhoods (LENs) will be introduced, spanning eight boroughs, that will use pollution-busting measures like strict new penalties for the most polluting vehicles, car-free days, green taxi ranks for zero emission-capable cabs and parking reserved for the cleanest vehicles to improve air quality at a local level. 

These targeted actions will tackle some of the worst pollution hotspots outside central London, with the Mayor and TfL contributing £5m.  By injecting more cash and securing  'like-for-like' funding from boroughs, the Mayor has expanded the number of ‘Low Emission Neighbourhoods’ from two to five, benefiting eight London boroughs and will come into full effect by the start of 2019.

LENs are being funded, in addition to a range of other borough air quality projects, by the Mayor’s Air Quality Fund (MAQF).  The MAQF is providing an additional £5million for a range of borough-wide projects such as anti-idling campaigns, over the next three years.

The Mayor has recently hit out at the devastating environmental consequences of a third runway at Heathrow, signalling his support for a potential legal challenge of the Government’s decision. He has directed TfL to provide advice and assistance to affected borough councils, including Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead, as they prepare for a joint legal challenge with Greenpeace against a third runway at Heathrow.

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