BHF responds to Mayor of Londons plans to tackle air pollution

5 April 2017        

Category: BHF Comment

London skyline seen through heavy pollution

In a bid to cut the capital’s air pollution levels, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has today announced that, from 2019, polluting cars will be charged up to £24 a day to drive in central London. The news comes ahead of the UK government‘s clean air plan, which is expected to be published in the coming weeks.

How does air pollution affect your health? 

Air pollution is a dangerous and deadly risk to your health, especially the cardiovascular system. Exposure increases your risk of developing heart disease, as well as having a heart attack or stroke. 

The plans for central London include a charge of £12.50 for all but the newest diesel cars to drive in the ultra-low emissions zone (Ulez) – the same central area as the congestion charge. Diesel cars that are more than four years old and petrol cars that are more than 13 years old will be subject to these charges 24 hours a day. 

How will this make a difference?

The introduction of the Ulez charge is expected to cut emissions of dangerous nitrogen oxides from traffic pollution by almost half by 2020, the mayor's office said. Buses, coaches and HGVs that do not meet the emissions standards will have to pay £100. The Ulez will apply to all types of vehicle except black taxis.

A “toxicity" T-charge for the most polluting vehicles driving through central London is already due to start in October. Under these new plans, the Ulez charge, which covers more vehicles, will replace the £10 T-charge in April 2019.

What we said: 

Our Head of Policy, John Maingay, said: “We know that dangerous levels of air pollution are putting people - both healthy individuals and particularly those with heart disease - at greater risk of a heart attack or stroke.  

“This silent killer contributes to 40,000 premature deaths a year in the UK, showing the urgent need for action.  

“Despite these alarming health risks, exposure to air pollution is not a choice the public have control over and giving advice to people to stay at home when air pollution is high is nowhere near good enough. Today’s move is a step in the right direction to protect the health of the 8.5 million people living in our capital and we look forward to seeing the full government plan in the coming weeks.”

Tackling a hidden killer

We’re funding £1.7 million of research into this area alone, to help us better understand the impact of air pollution. BHF-funded Professor David Newby and his team have already made a number of key breakthroughs about air pollution and its effect on the cardiovascular system. 

Find out more