- Deputy for environment and energy was ‘disappointed’ by contradictory data
- Scientific research showed Ulez cut nitrogen dioxide by less than three per cent
- Mayor’s office requested co-written statement to position Ulez as effective
Sadiq Khan‘s office has been accused of trying to ‘silence’ scientists over publishing research that showed his ultra-low emissions zone (Ulez) policy had ‘insignificant’ effect on pollution, as protestors brought traffic to a standstill on Saturday to fight against expansion of the scheme.
The claims were made following a series of emails between Shirley Rodrigues, the London Mayor’s deputy for environment and energy and Professor Frank Kelly, director of Imperial’s Environmental Research Group, which has received £800,000 of funding from the London Mayor’s office since 2021.
In the emails, seen by The Telegraph, Ms Rodrigues said she was disappointed that Imperial College had published a study by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering that showed Ulez cut nitrogen dioxide by less than three per cent and had achieved an insignificant impact on ozone and particulate matter.
Such research undermined the London Mayor’s policy, argued Ms Rodrigues.
Prof Kelly is said to have agreed to co-write a statement with her that contradicted the research and positioned Ulez as having helped to ‘dramatically reduce air pollution’.
The claims have emerged as politicians and academics call for a rethink on the economic impact Ulez expansion could have on lower-income families.
Cllr Paul Osborn, leader of Harrow Council, which is against the Ulez expansion, said: ‘I have long believed that this expansion will have a very limited impact on air pollution but comes at a massive cost to the poorest and most vulnerable motorists.’
Cllr Baroness O’Neill of Bexley said the data was ‘flawed’ and added: ‘ Extending Ulez has always been more about the Mayor of London’s drive for income generation than improving air quality for Bexley residents.’
A spokesman for Mr Khan defended the policy and said it was ‘commonplace’ for academic experts to disagree.
They added: ‘The Ulez analysis from the engineering department at Imperial only paints a partial picture, not accounting for the full lifetime impact of the scheme and only focusing on its immediate impact around its launch.’
The Ulez expansion will see drivers in outer London pay a £12.50 daily fee from August 29 if their vehicles do not meet required emissions standards
The claims were made as protesters brought traffic to a standstill at the edge of London to fight against plans to extend the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (Ulez), 10 days before the zone is set to cover the entire city.
Tractors, a taxi and a three-wheel car were seen spiralling around a roundabout at Orpington War Memorial, south east London, while protesters shouted into megaphones and blew whistles.
The Ulez expansion will see drivers in outer London pay a £12.50 daily fee from August 29 if their vehicles do not meet required emissions standards.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak last month urged London Mayor Sadiq Khan to ‘think twice’ about Ulez expansion, while on Monday, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer suggested cities should look at other options for tackling air pollution.
Speaking about the econonimc impact, Professor Jim Skea, head of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), told The Spectator: ‘We need to be conscious about the economic effects that any measures have on different groups within society, because we know that people on lower incomes tend to drive older cars that are going to be hit by low emission zones.
‘Electric cars cost money that people on lower incomes can’t necessarily find the capital to pay.
‘All of these issues need to be taken into consideration when you are developing policy, and explained and consulted all the way along.’
Mr Khan has previously admitted his decision to expand the Ulez was ‘very difficult’ but insisted it would ‘see five million more Londoners being able to breathe cleaner air’.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak last month urged London Mayor Sadiq Khan to ‘think twice’ about Ulez expansion, while on Monday, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer suggested cities should look at other options for tackling air pollution