Londoners deserve to live in a city which embraces and protects the natural environment. This why I fully support the aim of making London the first National Park City – where citizens and nature are better connected. I will also alter the London Plan so that it includes the right to beauty – which will give communities the ability to challenge ugly proposed developments. Residential tower blocks will be banned in all but five well planned areas.
I will strongly lobby the Government to implement a generous scrappage scheme, so that small businesses will not suffer as a result of having to comply with the Ultra Low Emission Zone in 2020. Also, in association with the outer London Boroughs, suburban short trip cycling will be prioritised and supported with the appropriate infrastructure.
The London Datastore will collect and publish data which will allow residents to compare the environmental performance of their Boroughs, especially related to surface water flood risks.
London is a great city and we need to ensure London is a great city for Londoners. That means continuing to improve the environment in which we live, protecting the quality of our green spaces and access to them, tackling low level nuisance crime such as graffiti and litter which blights our neighbourhoods, boosting energy efficiency, and greatly cutting down on the waste we generate. I have long campaigned and delivered on these issues, whether preventing the sale of playing fields or protecting funding for Kew Gardens.
Air pollution is also back as a major public health issue – more than 60 years since the Clean Air Act. Today a million Londoners live in areas that exceed legal limits on NO2 . Boris has begun the process of tackling this. No other world city has a Low Emission Zone and plans for an Ultra Low Emission Zone on top of existing congestion charging. London also already has the largest
electric-hybrid bus fleet in Europe and we’ve also seen record investment in cycling.
But London is growing by the equivalent of two extra Tube trains per week , and we need to do much more. For example we need a revolution in electric vehicles – both public and privately owned. Costs are falling fast, technology is improving and we are on a cusp where getting around in an electric car will be cheaper than a conventional one, which could have big benefits both for the people who live, work and raise a family in London but also for businesses of all kinds.
There are some aspects of the environment, such as air quality which the Mayor can influence directly. Tackling poor air quality is rightly seen by Londoners as a priority for action and have a transformational plan for doing this. Pollutants from diesel engines are the worst culprits in producing particles which are a major known cause of disease and reduced life expectancy. As Mayor I will increase the Congestion Charge for all the worst polluting commercial diesel vehicles (those which are non Euro 6 emission compliant) and within one year remove all buses which don’t comply with this standard as well as speeding up the introduction of electric and hybrid buses.
In wider terms, London’s ‘environment’ includes much of what makes living in the capital so desirable. While we need to build many new homes, we must also preserve what is charming and quirky about London such as the districts comprising rows of terraced streets, the intimate village nature of the areas which were swallowed up long ago by the expanding metropolis and the essential human scale of many of our districts. The Mayor has a key role in planning for our city and while I will ensure that London can grow and develop I will also preserve what makes it lovable.
We need to move on from petrol. Recent figures show London has the highest concentration of nitrogen dioxide of any EU capital city. However, I know with the best will in the world, this will not change overnight.
First, we must tackle diesel which was encouraged by Labour when they were in power. When bus drivers went on strike this year, NO2 on Oxford Street fell 66%. London is full of buses and rightly so. In the same way that the new black cabs will be low or zero emission, I would like to see how we can “nudge” bus companies to run low emission or hybrid fleets. I will also look into reducing the congestion charge for zero or low emission vehicles. That way we can incentive drivers and manufacturers to look to the future.
We also need to encourage the next phase of going electric and that means more rapid charging points which could be funded by sponsorship or advertising. If we can encourage car manufacturers to agree a standard for interchangeable batteries so a depleted battery can be easily replaced by a fully charged one within minutes, today’s petrol stations could eventually become battery exchange stations.