Susan Hall: Let’s clean up London’s air without taxing the poorest

Susan Hall (PA Wire)
Susan Hall (PA Wire)

Sadiq Khan has finally got his wish.

Families, small businesses and charities will be burdened with a £12.50 charge for going about their daily lives.

The Mayor is set to make £200million of revenue in the first year, and the effect on pollution will be negligible.

This is the wrong approach. The best way to tackle air pollution is to take targeted, local action where the problem is greatest.

This could be making a bus route zero emission, setting up air filtration technology, or adjusting roads to reduce congestion and idling.

Sadiq Khan knows this. In July 2021, in response to a written Mayoral question, he admitted that this was the most effective way to tackle air pollution in outer London, and ULEZ expansion was not. Only now does he refuse to acknowledge that alternatives exist.

He has tried to tar all opponents of the Ulez expansion as being against cleaner air, even going so far as to say opposing the policy means being “in coalition with the far right”. This is as frustrating as it is untrue.

This is not a battle of good against evil.

This is a debate over policy and how we weigh up its effectiveness against its potentially damaging side effects.

We all want the same thing when it comes to air quality, the question is how we get there.

If Sadiq Khan will not do the right thing, then I will. If I am elected Mayor, I will scrap the Ulez expansion and invest £50m in a plan to reduce air pollution.

There is a statutory requirement to deal with air pollution where it rises above safe limits, which I will take responsibility for and deliver on.

Let us bring air pollution down, without taxing the poorest, but instead through targeted and local action as Sadiq Khan once supported. That is the best way for us to clear the air.