Murad Qureshi AM has learned that the Mayor decided to delay phase III of the Low Emission Zone knowing full well it would cost TfL an additional £600,000 to do so.
In addition, the Mayor was made aware that the postponement would also delay improvements to London’s air quality – just as the UK was about to fail EU pollution limits, which is likely to land us with a fine of up to £300 million. The rest of the UK has met the EU standard – only London is still in breach.
An internal document seen by Murad sets out options presented to the Mayor by TfL in December 2008. It clearly shows the Mayor’s preferred option would cost more and achieve less in terms of improving London’s air quality – begging the question just why he chose to delay the next phase of a scheme that has improved the quality of life of many Londoners.
London Assembly Labour Group environment spokesman Murad Qureshi said: "Boris claimed he wanted to help 90,000 van owners, but the information I’ve seen shows this delay would benefit just 30,000. In effect, Boris has spent over half a million quid – £20 per van – to keep polluting vehicles on our streets for 15 months longer than necessary. I can’t see how Boris squares this with his stated desire for value for money. It looks to me like he’s spending more in order to achieve less."
Murad added: "You would have thought value for money would be a major consideration for him given TfL’s financial black hole that the Mayor constantly harps on about. All this while the EU shows up London as the bad boy of air pollution. And that’s even before you look at the health costs of London’s poor air quality."
Murad Qureshi is a Londonwide Labour Assembly Member, is Chair of the Assembly’s Environment Committee and is the Assembly’s Labour Group Environment spokesperson.
Experts believe that up to 5,000 people die prematurely in London each year due to pollution.
Murad’s original question to the Mayor on the advice he received on suspending the LEZ can be found here: http://mqt.london.gov.uk/mqt/public/question.do?id=26935