London leaders urged to ditch diesel

London leaders urged to ditch diesel

London's diesel-vehicle driving motorists could face a crackdown sooner than expected - if the capital's environment advisors get their way.

The London Assembly's Environment Committee is urging London Mayor Boris Johnson to help lower the amount of deaths linked to poor air quality by ditching diesel engines.

The Committee wants Mr Johnson to push through plans to make London an Ultra-Low-Emission Zone (ULEZ) far quicker than first planned.

Not only does it want the ULEZ to be introduced before 2020, it also would like the scheme expanded to include the introduction of zero-emission taxis.

In addition, it is advocating that ministers offer scrappage incentives to London motorists whose older diesel cars pollute the most, to ease their transition to hydrogen or electric models.

Experts believe that the bad quality of air is behind 3,000 deaths ever year in London.

The Committee's call comes only four months after an RAC-backed campaign launched in a bid to end the so-called "demonisation of diesel" .

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders' (SMMT) initiative is raising public knowledge of the newest, low-emission technology in the diesel car sector.

David Bizley, chief engineer of the RAC, said it is incorrect to backdate the penalising of diesel drivers. This is because at the time they genuinely thought it was the best low CO2 emission choice. Mr Bizley said: "engines are generally more efficient than their petrol equivalent, though the gap is closing."

The anti-diesel lobby gathered momentum earlier this year during a strike by bus drivers. This coincided with important London destinations reporting their lowest CO2 emissions for a long while.

The capital's bus and taxi network nearly exclusively runs on diesel at the moment. Such vehicles are thought to be behind massive volumes of nitrogen oxide (NO2) and particulates which pollute London's air. These NO2 rates have been proven to grossly exceed the limits set by European regulations.

Stephen Knight, a member of the Environment Committee, said it is becoming obvious that diesel discharges are largely responsible for London's pollution problem.

He said that petrol engines are becoming cleaner.

Mr Knight said the Committee is calling on both central and London governments to adopt its recommendations. Ministers are now legally bound to act on NO2 compliance since April's Supreme Court judgement, he added.

Copyright Press Association 2015