Air Pollution - London Waterways

MQT on 2015-07-15
Session date: 
July 15, 2015
Question By: 
Darren Johnson
City Hall Greens
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Should a timeframe be adopted for bringing waterways under the scope of both Low Emission Zone in London and the Clean Air Act nationally, in order to drive technological innovation and encourage cleaner vessels?


Answer for Air Pollution - London Waterways

Answer for Air Pollution - London Waterways

Answered By: 
The Mayor

On the 1st January 2010 the EU implemented its requirement that all ships burn fuel of 0.1 per cent sulphur content or less when they are within EU ports or within EU inland waterways. On the 1st July 2010 this requirement was extended offshore into Emissions Control Areas (ECA) which includes the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. This area includes the Thames and came in to force on 01 January 2015. As the ECA extends from Falmouth through the entire North Sea to 62° North this means that all vessels operating along the Thames will have been burning low sulphur diesel.

As the Low Emission Zone only currently regulates particulate emissions (versus sulphur dioxide emissions which are the main issue involving vessels) and uses Automated Number Plate Recognition technologies for enforcement, it is not the ideal policy tool to tackle marine emissions. Instead as part of my River Action Plan I have asked TfL to encourage boat operators to adopt 'eco-driving' and explore other technical innovations (such as hybrid engine technology) to minimise the environmental footprint of river services.

My officers have made representations to the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) for additional powers to be included in the revised Clean Air Act relating to emissions from canal boats, especially when stationary. I have also included information on emissions from canal boats in my response to the recent European Commission consultation on non-road mobile machinery (NRMM), recommending that canal boat engines be better integrated into the NRMM directive to improve their emissions and reduce noise.