Sadiq Khan Advocates Empowering Cities for ULEZ Expansion and Air Pollution Policies”

Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, has proposed that cities throughout the United Kingdom should be empowered to independently determine whether they wish to adopt a strategy akin to his forthcoming expansion of London’s ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ). He has also expressed a willingness to welcome municipal authorities embracing a “data-driven approach” to address the pressing issue of air pollution.

Khan’s policy, slated to take effect on August 29, involves imposing a daily fee of £12.50 for vehicles that do not meet emission standards. Several other British cities, including Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, and Bath, have already implemented measures such as vehicle restrictions or fees for specific vehicle types operating within their urban precincts.

London currently employs three distinct schemes, with the initial £15 congestion charge introduced by former Mayor Ken Livingstone dating back to 2003. In response to inquiries regarding whether Khan would encourage other UK cities to consider implementing a comparable policy to the ULEZ, including charging drivers a commensurate fee within their city limits, a spokesperson for Khan responded, “The Mayor advocates for a fact-based approach to combat the harmful effects of air pollution, allowing each city to determine its appropriate policies and infrastructure. The expansion of the ULEZ represented a challenging decision, but it has already delivered tangible benefits, providing cleaner air for over four million residents.”

The spokesperson further elaborated, saying, “Levels of harmful nitrogen dioxide have fallen by nearly fifty percent in central London and by a fifth in inner London, in contrast to pre-ULEZ projections.”

Khan’s stance appears to align with that of Sir Keir Starmer, the leader of the Labour Party, who reportedly adjusted his plans to implement nationwide air quality initiatives if he ascends to the role of prime minister after the forthcoming general election, anticipated next year.

When asked whether recent political developments, including the Uxbridge by-election outcome and the broader controversy surrounding the ULEZ expansion, influenced Starmer’s reported decision, a spokesperson for Khan reiterated his commitment to the policy. They emphasized, “Air pollution is a pressing public health crisis, and the Mayor has emphasized that expanding the ULEZ was a difficult yet necessary step to safeguard the lives of Londoners and protect the respiratory health of our children. Notably, while the majority of cars regularly seen in outer London already meet ULEZ standards, small businesses and individual London residents with non-compliant vehicles are now eligible for support to facilitate the replacement of their vehicles.”

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