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Hackney Council could lobby to ban diesel cars to tackle air pollution

PUBLISHED: 09:00 18 March 2017

Cllr Feryal Dermici

Cllr Feryal Dermici

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Hackney Council would support a blanket ban on diesel vehicles in order to tackle toxic air pollution in the borough, the town hall’s transport lead has said.

Cllr Feryal Demirci said London mayor Sadiq Khan was not being “ambitious enough” with his environmental policy, and if he were to impose a London-wide ban on diesel cars then the council would back his plans.

But even without a London ban, Hackney is consulting on whether to recommend diesel cars – which emit 10 times more nitrogen dioxide than buses – be prohibited from local roads.

A town hall scrutiny group is now conducting a review into the air quality in the borough, which may recommend diesel vehicles be banned entirely.

The “living in Hackney” scrutiny commission’s Cllr Ian Rathbone said: “We need to stop licensing diesel cars but there is only so much as a borough we can do. There needs to be an intervention at a national level. We [Hackney] have some of the worst air quality in London.

“I was shocked to find how polluting diesel cars actually are. They have to go.”

The council does not have the power to unilaterally ban diesel vehicles but its recommendation could act as a powerful lobbying tool to the Mayor of London.

Neighbouring Islington became the first council last week to call on Sadiq Khan to ban diesel vehicles from London’s streets.

Although Hackney has not yet gone as far, it recently announced diesel drivers applying for a year-long parking permit will incur a £50 levy fee on top of the total sum.

Cllr Demirci said: “We encourage them to look at greener, less polluting vehicles and we are moving our own fleet away from diesel where possible.

“We would support a London-wide diesel ban if the Mayor of London were to introduce it.”

Campaigners say air pollution exposure leads to more than 9,400 premature deaths in London every year, with diesel fumes making up about 40 per cent of all emissions.

There have been calls for London to follow the likes of Paris, Madrid, Athens and Mexico City, all of which have pledged to ban diesel vehicles by 2025. In the short-term, however, Hackney Council has called on Sadiq Khan to extend the ultra-low emission zone to cover the borough.

Due to come into force in 2019, the ultra low-emission zone will introduce a daily charge in certain parts of London: £12.50 to £100 for vehicles that do not meet exhaust emission standards, with the threat of a fine of up to £1,000.

After a consultation it was decided the low emission zone, currently operational in central London, was to be extended to the North and South Circular. However, the council says this should be extended to cover Hackney.

Cllr Demirci said: “We do not feel a zone which stops at the North and South Circular, cutting through boroughs and town centres, is ambitious enough.

“We would like to see a London-wide Ultra Low Emissions Zone and a clear commitment to progressively tightening the restrictions so we do more than simply meet the national air quality objectives.”

Transport for London claims a London-wide low emissions scheme, including outer boroughs, would lead to 27 per cent lower emissions across the capital.

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