Today’s Times has picked up that the LEZ is not what it seems and that the Mayor has been extremely disingenuous to put the 1,000 deaths figure in his mendacious press release.
The Times says:
The [Mayor’s press] release implied that the zone would help to save the lives of many of the 1,000 people who die prematurely in London each year because of poor air quality.
But Transport for London, the mayor’s transport authority, admitted yesterday that very few lives would be saved. It said that existing European regulations on reducing engine emissions would contribute 65 per cent of the health benefits listed by Mr Livingstone. Another 15 per cent would be the product of existing plans to introduce cleaner buses and taxis. Only a fifth of the improvement in air pollution by 2012 will be attributable to the low emission zone. Air pollution in general will reduce only by about 5 per cent, meaning the zone will improve overall air quality by only 1 per cent.
They quote LibDem candidate Brian Paddick as saying:
To suggest the LEZ will do something about the 1,000 deaths a year caused by pollution is grossly misleading. The most effective way to deal with pollution in London is to get the traffic moving again and reduce the number of lorries on our roads through retail consolidation schemes. This is about improving the mayor’s image, not improving air quality.
The Freight Transport Association’s Gordon Telling, the association’s head of policy for London, said:
This scheme achieves very little that would not have been achieved anyway. This means that Londoners, and lorry operators, are having to pay an enormous price for a trivial improvement in air quality.
Even Nick Fairholme, TfL’s head of the low emission zone, when asked how many lives would be saved by the zone, Mr Fairholme said:
Very few is the honest answer. The benefits are not so much in terms of lives saved. It’s about reduced use of inhalers and reduced hospital admissions.
Don’t forget that the number of reduced hospital admissions for the whole life of the scheme is 86.