Clean Air Now? Caroline Pidgeon Responds

Posted by Caroline Pidgeon — 21 April 2016 at 4:04pm - Comments
All rights reserved. Credit: Greenpeace

This blog below written by the Liberal Democrat candidate for the Mayor of London, Caroline Pidgeon. It's part of a series of blogs by candidates for London Mayor. We'll also be featuing blogs by Sadiq Khan (Labour), Zac Goldsmith (Conservative) and Sian Berry (Green Party).

London's air quality is one of the worst in Europe. Add your name to the thousands of people demanding clean air now.

Getting real about tackling London’s air pollution

It was not long ago that understanding about air pollution was pitiful, especially amongst MPs. Just 18 months ago a poll of 100 MPs revealed that hardly any recognised that air pollution the second biggest public health risk, with only smoking posing a greater risk.Thankfully things are changing. Yet while the greater recognition of the horrific consequences of air pollution is welcome, the real challenge is to ensure action is actually taken.My manifesto is quite clear that real action is needed straight away.

One immediate step is to increase the Congestion Charge by £2.50 for diesel vehicles.At the same time we need to improve and expand the proposed Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ). Waiting four and half years until it starts is not acceptable. I would bring its implementation forward to 2018.The size of the ULEZ is also too small. It should be expanded to cover London inside the north and south circular roads.

Alongside these measures we also need bolder steps to make walking and cycling far more attractive, including a peak-time ban on HGVs and the full pedestrianisation of Oxford Street. We also need to actively deter commuting into London by car. In central London and Canary Wharf I would introduce a workplace parking levy on employers with parking spaces, with only disabled parking spaces and spaces for health and emergency service staff excluded.I also reject the idea that we can build our way out of congestion. New road tunnels and especially the proposed Silvertown Tunnel should be cancelled.  We need to improve river crossings by foot, bike and public transport, but not for motorists.

And of course we need to ensure London truly goes electric. The recent increase in uptake of electric cars is encouraging but the real challenge is to ensure buses and taxis are electric as well. I specifically advocate TfL bulk purchasing a fleet of electric taxis and then leasing and selling them to drivers and garages. This must also be backed up by a network of rapid charging docking stations.It nothing less than a scandal that the Royal Albert Hall could be filled twice over by the number of Londoners who prematurely die each year -  simply due to the poor quality of London’s air.Choosing to not effectively tackle the problem is an act of inhumanity.

We can and must end the scandal of poor air pollution in London.

Caroline Pidgeon is the Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London. You can find out more here 

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