Goldsmith takes aim at HGV traffic and boosting EV use

The London Mayor Conservative candidate’s transport policies include an electric vehicle hire scheme and restricting freight in the capital

Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith plans to introduce a ‘Boris Bike’-type scheme for electric vehicles and set new restrictions on freight and lorries in London if he is elected Mayor on May 5.

Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith

Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith

Launching his transport manifesto in Ilford yesterday (March 30), Mr Goldsmith said his plans for London’s transport would tackle congestion and clean up air in the capital.

“I will tackle congestion by getting more freight lorries off our roads and levelling the playing field between black cabs and Uber,” he said. “I will drive up air quality with a new deal for cyclists, massive support for electric cars and an Ultra Low Emission Zone.”

Mr Goldsmith, who is firmly against an expansion of Heathrow, said HGVs (heavy goods vehicles) and freight needed “tough new standards” to take lorries off the road and cut pollution.

He also backs ‘clean bus corridors’ on polluted streets and promises to retrofit all London buses by 2020, while making sure all new buses purchased hybrid, electric or hydrogen-powered.

On taxis and black cabs, Mr Goldsmith said he would make sure all black cabs were zero emission by 2018, and all minicabs zero emission by 2020. And, he said he would convert cabs to liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) while levelling the playing field with Uber by only allowing private hire firms to grow their fleet with zero emission vehicles.

Elsewhere, his plans include a boiler scrappage scheme, more electronic signs on London roads to raise awareness of air pollution and for online smog alerts to be issued by Transport for London (TfL).

Electric vehicles and ULEZ

One idea floated in Mr Goldsmith’s transport manifesto would see him work with local authorities to roll out a London-wide electric vehicle car sharing scheme with a single payment system, which would allow drivers to hire a vehicle in one part of the capital and drop it off elsewhere.

“I will drive up air quality with a new deal for cyclists, massive support for electric cars and an Ultra Low Emission Zone” – Zac Goldsmith MP, candidate for London Mayor

Under current Mayor Boris Johnson’s plans, an ultra low emission zone is set to operate in Central London from 2020, but Mr Goldsmith said he would consult with Londoners on how to improve the ULEZ, which he suggested could see the zone expanded to encompass a larger area in future.

He said: “Ultimately, I want all of London to be a pollution-free zone. However, any changes would be in tandem with ensuring Londoners in the outer boroughs have genuine and affordable access to the cleanest possible cars, and to electric car charging infrastructure.”

Fuel duty

The government froze diesel and petrol fuel duty for the sixth year running earlier this month, but Mr Goldsmith said London should have the power to control Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) “so we can help consumers make the cleanest possible choices when it comes to buying a new car”.

He said he would use the £500 million raised from VED to “support a clean car revolution on London’s streets” and would also lobby the government to back a diesel vehicle scrappage scheme in the capital.

Silvertown tunnel

In backing plans for a river crossing tunnel under the Thames at Silvertown in South East London in his manifesto, Mr Goldsmith is likely to face criticism from local air quality campaigners who claim the proposal will increase rather than ease congestion and traffic in the area.

However, he said that in order to ensure that the crossing does not add to air pollution he would “levy higher charges for dirty vehicles, while offering discounts for the cleanest cars” travelling through the tunnel.

The Conservative MP for Richmond has also previously voiced support for cycling, lower-emission LPG fuel for black cabs, more freight consolidation centres and for all buses to be at least ULEZ-capable by 2020 (see story).

Mr Goldsmith’s main rival in the Mayoral race, Labour MP Sadiq Khan, launched his manifesto earlier this month, which included targets to restore London’s air quality to legal levels by expanding the proposed ULEZ and banning road vehicles from Oxford Street (see story).

Related Links:

Zac Goldsmith’s transport manifesto


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