Mayor’s air quality plan to tackle London diesel cars

London diesel drivers could face emission zone charge in addition to congestion charge under plans in Mayor’s air quality manifesto

Diesel drivers could be forced to pay an extra charge on top of the current £11.50 congestion charge to travel in central London, as part of a number of air quality proposals set to be unveiled by the Mayor later today (July 29).

Boris Johnson, the London Mayor, plans to introduce an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in the centre of the capital by 2020, as part of which he is proposing that diesel drivers will be subject to an additional ‘ULEZ’ charge, unless their vehicles comply with the EU’s Euro 6 exhaust emission limits.

London Mayor, Boris Johnson

London Mayor, Boris Johnson

Drivers of petrol vehicles will also be subject to a ULEZ charge on top of the congestion charge to travel in central London unless their vehicles are at Euro 4 petrol standard.
According to the Mayor’s office, the proposed ULEZ charge is likely to be a similar amount to the current congestion charge, although Mr Johnson’s emission zone plans are still subject to a full consultation.

Previous UK governments and London administrations have incentivised motorists to buy diesel cars as these produce fewer carbon emissions. However, the Mayor’s office said that Euro diesel engine standards have not delivered the emission savings expected while a generation of ‘dirty’ diesel engines have been produced which have had an adverse impact on nitrogen dioxide levels.

According to Mr Johnson, introducing charges from  2020 to curb the use of diesel vehicles in London will give help tackle the capital’s nitrogen dioxide levels while giving motorists time to meet the new standards.

He said he would also be urging the European Commission to improve the testing of new vehicle engine emission standards and to create a new fund to help EU cities tackle pollution.

Mr Johnson is also calling on the UK government to put a greater focus on tackling air pollution through incentives to promote cleaner vehicles and funding to tackle pollution hotspots and to purchase more, cleaner vehicles.


The proposals are being unveiled as part of the Mayor’s new air quality manifesto, which he claims will take the capital ‘two thirds of the way’ to compliance with EU nitrogen dioxide limits by 2020.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson at the 'New Taxis for London' event earlier this year (January 16)

Mayor of London Boris Johnson at the ‘New Taxis for London’ event earlier this year (January 16)

The UK government recently conceded that several areas of the UK may not comply with EU standards for nitrogen dioxide until as late as 2030 (see story).

Supporting the ULEZ proposals, the Mayor intends to put in place a programme to tackle air pollution at schools alongside the launch of a public awareness campaign in September 2014.


With regards to the capital’s vehicle fleet, Mr Johnson said he would be retrofitting a further 400 of Transport for London (TfL)’s older buses as well as expanding the electric bus fleet by a minimum of 300 by 2020.

Furthermore, Mr Johnson will later announce plans to work with the government’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles to deliver:

  • 200,000 ultra-low emission cars
  • 7,000 zero emission-capable taxis
  • 11,500 ultra-low emission private hire vehicles
  • an additional 1,600 zero emission capable buses
  • up to 350 electric vehicles in other public fleets
  • 35 rapid electric vehicle charging hubs in London by 2020 with 350 rapid charge points and an inductive charging network

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “Improving London’s air quality is an urgent challenge, it affects the health and well-being of all Londoners, and it simply cannot be put on hold. Here at City Hall we are doing everything in our power to address it.

“At the heart of this are my plans for the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone in central London from 2020. This will be a game changer, but with just a little more energy, ambition and action from Westminster and from Brussels, London can meet the EU limits for NO2 by 2020. It is possible, and together we can make it happen.”

Mr Johnson will be announcing his air quality proposals later in London at en event to commemorate 60 years since the first London-specific Clean Air Act was passed in 1954.

Councillor Julian Bell, leader of the Ealing borough council and chair of London Councils’ Transport and Environment Committee (TEC), said: “Boroughs are taking significant steps to improve the quality of London’s air, but this is a pan-London problem. Our message is clear: boroughs need the money and the power to make changes without their efforts being undermined by government or the looming threat of multimillion-pound fines.”


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Paul Braithwaite
Paul Braithwaite
9 years ago

What does “7,000 zero-emission CAPABLE taxis” mean??
As far as I know, there’s a few dozen electric-only Prius and Chinese fully electric London taxis now.

And two-thirds to way to compliance with the NO2 law by the year 2020 is a downright disgrace.

PS And the claim that the New Bus for London is the most advanced in the world is a farce alongside the genuine zero emission Hydrogen buses in service on route RV1.

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