LEZ and Horseboxes

Meeting: 
MQT on 2009-11-18
Session date: 
November 18, 2009
Reference: 
2009/3533
Question By: 
Roger Evans
Organisation: 
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

Given that the air quality strategy is still in draft form, are you considering making horse transportation exempt within the LEZ?

Answer

Answer for LEZ and Horseboxes

Answer for LEZ and Horseboxes

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Thank you, Roger Evans. I am afraid I am not able to give you the answer I think you want to hear on this. I think you want me to say that we would exempt horseboxes from the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) with 100% discounts. I think TfL has looked at this extensively and have concluded it would simply be too difficult to devise such an exemption. Regrettably, therefore, since horseboxes I am told are amongst the worst polluting vehicles on London's roads, it is not a loophole I am inclined to open.

Roger Evans (AM): I am disappointed by your response, frankly. If you come out to our corner - indeed, if you go out to a lot of places in outer London where the horseboxes are driven - you can take a deep breath of fresh air and you will not be choking on pollutants like you would be if you were to go out and take a deep breath of air on the Marylebone Road or near Heathrow Airport, or the places that you should be looking at to reduce pollution.

This just seems like an arbitrary measure to punish farmers and charities and small businesses in outer London and TfL is doing it because it is just too difficult, administratively, for them to avoid doing it, rather than because there is actually a coherent policy reason for doing it. That would be very disappointing. Can you undertake to go back to Transport for London and see if it will review that decision?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I will do as you say, Roger but, as I say, I am not inclined to be optimistic about this just because one of the things that occurred to me, as I was thinking about this question, is does a horsebox always have to contain a horse in order to qualify as a horsebox? I can well imagine that people might want to get round the LEZ rules by using a vehicle and claiming it was a horsebox or using a horsebox for other purposes than to transport a horse.

There are, I think, a variety of difficulties in creating this special exemption and, once you create an exemption, for instance, for horseboxes, you might equally argue that dispensation should be made for other vehicles that are used to transport fair equipment and all the rest of it. Ice cream vans.

Roger Evans (AM): That is intriguing thinking and it is ahead of TfL's thinking on these matters usually because, of course, it granted an exemption from Congestion Charge for private hire vehicles, never dreaming that people would register their private cars as private hire vehicles and drive them round free for hire but never picking anyone up inside the central zone. These things can be got round if there is actually a will there to do it.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Yes. I am worried that the horsebox exemption would provide a means for people to get round the LEZ and I do not want to see that because, as we have discussed and I have been held repeatedly to account on the issue of the Low Emission Zone, I do think it is important that we improve air quality in London. If you start saying that you can breathe in in lovely Havering and all you will smell is the sweet aroma of horses, rather than anything else, you will be allowing some very noxious and polluting vehicles to travel not just into Havering but throughout London and reducing air quality in this city.