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Khan coy on Taxi ULEZ exemption as Government publish new ‘Clean Air Strategy’

Today the Environment Secretary Michael Gove has published a Clean Air Strategy which aims to cut air pollution and save lives, backed up through new primary legislation. 

Air pollution is the fourth biggest threat to public health after cancer, obesity and heart disease and the new government strategy sets out how we will go further and faster than the EU in reducing human exposure to particulate matter pollution. These proposals are in addition to the government’s £3.5 billion plan to reduce air pollution from road transport and diesel vehicles, set out in July last year. It is estimated that the action set out will reduce the costs of air pollution to society by an estimated £1 billion every year by 2020, rising to £2.5 billion every year from 2030. The new strategy, which is now out for consultation, is a key part of our 25 Year Plan to leave our environment in a better state. The points that relate back to the taxi industry include: 

Government will introduce new primary legislation, which will give local government new powers to improve air quality.

We will work with international partners to research and develop new standards for tyres and brakes to enable us to address toxic non-exhaust emissions of micro plastics from vehicles which can pollute air and water.

We will provide a personal air quality messaging system to inform the public, particularly those who are vulnerable to air pollution, about the air quality forecast, providing clearer information on air pollution episodes and accessible health advice.

We will put new investment into scientific research and innovation strengthening the UK’s position as a world leader in clean technology and secure further emissions reductions.

During a visit to meet air quality researchers at Imperial College, Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “Air quality has improved significantly since 2010 but sixty years on from the historic Clean Air Act a clear truth remains - air pollution is making people ill, shortening lives and damaging our economy and environment. “This is why today we are launching this clean air strategy, backed up with new primary legislation. It sets out the comprehensive action required across all parts of government to improve air quality.” 

London Mayor, Sadiq Khan responded to the strategy by saying: “ I’m encouraged by the meeting I had with Michael Gove yesterday. I’m encouraged by the Government’s announcement today finally excepting there is a need for a clean air bill. 

“There’s a consultation they’ve published today, we’ll be responding to that. But we need a number of key things, we need to make sure that the government takes action in relation to transport pollution, we need a diesel scrappage scheme, we need resources to be given to not just the GLA but to councils as well.

“It’s really important to welcome the progress made, it’s an inch forward.”

However, in a recent London Assembly meeting earlier this week GLA member David Kurten quizzed the mayor repeatedly whether restrictions where to be placed on cabs that did not comply to zero emission targets. The answers from the London Mayor were somewhat worryingly vague.

David Kurten, UKIP AM, said: “By the time zero emission zones come into town centres not all taxis will be zero emission capable, will you be making an exemption for those taxis who aren’t?” The Mayor responded by saying: “We are optimistic that by that time many taxis will have change to zero emission, we have seen a huge appetite from the taxi trade.” 

Watch the full exchange between the London Mayor and David Kurten by clicking the link below. Fast forward to 49 minutes and make your own mind up:

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