Harmful emissions have decreased in parts of Brent due to the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ), according to a new report by City Hall and Transport for London (TfL).

The report, which has been peer-reviewed by Dr Gary Fuller, an expert on urban pollution at Imperial College London, concluded that toxic pollutants have been reduced by nearly half in Central London since the introduction of ULEZ in 2019.

It also found that emissions have been reduced by 26% within the expanded ULEZ, which was implemented two years later.

A 2019 Imperial College London study revealed more than 100 people died prematurely in Brent due to air pollution that year.

Cabinet member for environment, infrastructure, and climate action, Cllr Krupa Sheth, said: “I welcome the findings of this report, which clearly state how ULEZ is effective at reducing harmful particles which exacerbate health issues for residents of all ages.”

Dr Fuller said: “The central London ULEZ, and its extension to inner London, has brought about measurable and sustained improvements to air pollution from traffic.”

The ULEZ was expanded by several miles to include parts of the north and south circular roads in 2021. This meant parts of Brent, such as Queen’s Park, Willesden, Harlesden and Dollis Hill fell inside the zone.

Drivers across Brent will have to pay the £12.50 a day charge if their cars aren’t compliant from August 2023 when the whole borough will be included within ULEZ. Petrol cars registered before 2005 and diesel cars registered before 2015, will be subject to the daily charge. 

Cllr Sheth said: “Making small changes to how we travel can have a real impact, we all need to do our bit. In Brent, we are proud to support initiatives that improve air quality, whether it be our schools streets programmes, tree planting initiatives or cargo bike schemes – and that is why we are pleased to see another initiative that will get residents breathing again.”

The leader of Brent Council, Cllr Muhammed Butt, said: “One death in our borough due to toxic air is a tragedy. When you take into account the 149 premature deaths that we have in Brent due to bad air, you can only come to the conclusion that bold action needs to be taken.” 

He added: “While 80% of vehicles are already compliant, some residents who are reliant on their vehicles may be unable to afford a cleaner vehicle. We hope the scrappage scheme targets those most affected and that existing scheme discounts, exemptions and reimbursements continue to support those least able to afford the daily charge.” 

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who is spending £160 million on the expansion and £110 million on a vehicle scrappage scheme, has come under fire from some London councils over the scheme but says it is vital to prevent premature death and disease caused by air pollutants.

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: “Around 4,000 deaths in London were attributed to air pollution in 2019. Sadiq [Khan] refuses to sit back and do nothing when lives are being lost and urges these local authorities to support his plans to bring cleaner air to every Londoner – wherever they live in the capital.”

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