In Brief

Why the City of London is considering a non-electric car ban

Air quality chief says the London Mayor’s current plans to cut pollution won’t go far enough

The City of London is considering a pilot scheme that would temporarily ban non-electrified cars from certain low emission streets.

London’s financial centre plays host to some of the capital’s “worst hotspots” for nitrogen dioxide (NOx) pollution, according to the Financial Times. This is due to the area’s narrow and often congested roads that are lined with high buildings.

In a bid to combat the high pollution levels, the City of London’s air quality chief Ruth Calderwood says the district could introduced provisional “ultra low emission vehicle” roads where only electric or plug-in hybrid cars would be permitted to pass. 

Speaking to the FT, Calderwood said she believed London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), which come into effect next April, will not go far enough to reduce pollution in the city. 

“We are going to have to look at additional measures at our busiest roadsides”, she said.

Khan’s Ultra Low Emission Zone doesn’t prevent certain car types from gaining access to London, but owners of petrol and diesel vehicles that are over a decade old will have to pay a fee on top of the existing £11.50 congestion charge.

It’s not yet known what impact the ULEZ will have on the City of London’s pollution levels. 

In 2016, according to Auto Express, City of London’s Walbrook Wharf and Beech Street had emission levels that were more than double the EU’s annual limit of 40 micrograms per cubic metre of NOx gases.

While Calderwood believes that ultra low emission streets will help cut down pollution levels, she told the FT that the concept needs to be trialled before a more permanent solution is found.

“We want to make sure about the availability of vehicles: we don’t want to introduce something that’s going to be a problem”, she said.

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