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Reprieve for small businesses as Mayor suspends phase three of Low Emission Zone
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, today announced his intention to suspend the third phase of the Low Emission Zone because of the detrimental impact it would have on London’s small businesses. He outlined how, whilst entirely committed to improving air quality, improvements can be achieved through other measures.
The move is part of the Mayor's agenda to aid businesses during the economic downturn, and complements his £3bn Economic Recovery package to get London back on track. The Mayor has extended half price bus fares to Londoners on Job Seekers Allowance, introduced the 24 hour Freedom Pass, and free travel for war veterans, and has frozen the Council Tax precept for the first time.
The Low Emission Zone currently targets the most polluting lorries over 3.5 tonnes, buses and coaches, and the Mayor is 100 per cent committed to the existing phases 1 and 2 of the scheme, which have proved effective. Phase three of the scheme, planned by the previous Mayoral administration, was scheduled to start in October 2010 and would have affected much smaller vehicles, including vans and minibuses, and even family camper vans. Without these changes many of the owners of the 90,000 non-compliant vehicles that use the zone each year would have faced a bill of up to £2000 for abatement equipment, or £15,000 for a new vehicle. They would have alternatively faced £100 daily charges or fines of £500 for each day they entered Greater London. These costs could have tipped firms into receivership and caused job losses.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said:
“I want to do all I can to ease the burden of the economic downturn that is affecting us all at this time. Although the Low Emission Zone has been successful in tackling the worst polluters, and will continue to play an important role, it is not the right time to press ahead with extending it to include smaller vehicles like vans and minibuses.
"Many of these will be owned by small businesses, charities, and self-employed Londoners already hard hit by the recession. Simply put, the cost of fitting pollution equipment or getting a new vehicle would have come as punch in the ribs to those who need our help at this time, would have destroyed profit margins, and endangered our businesses. I am confident that the new course we have set finds a balance between London's environmental and economic needs and that we can lower emissions in more imaginative ways."
The Mayor recently met with Lord Hunt to discuss Air Quality issues, and agreed that the GLA and Defra will work jointly on a package of measures, both national and regional, which will address PM10 emissions in London in order to meet EU targets. He has also written to Lord Mandelson, the Trade and Industry Secretary, with the aim of working together with the Government on a subsidy scheme for replacing the oldest, most polluting light goods vehicles. Such a scheme would help small businesses, improve the environment, and stimulate the UK automotive industry at a time of economic slowdown. In addition, Transport for London is delivering a range of initiatives focused on improving air quality. These include:
The Low Emission Zone will continue to reduce emissions from the most individually polluting vehicles in London. The scheme standards will rise again for these vehicles in January 2012 when vehicles affected by phases one and two will have to meet the Euro IV standard for particulate matter to continue to drive within Greater London without charge.
Notes to Editors
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