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Growing number of diesel cars on London’s roads despite serious health warnings

New analysis shows the number of diesel cars on London’s roads has increased by over 170,000 since 2012, despite serious public health warnings about the risks of cancer and air pollution. Labour’s London Assembly Environment Spokesperson, Leonie Cooper AM, criticised the last Mayor’s failure to reduce the number of diesel cars in the capital and said the government were “running out of opportunities to bat away calls for a scrappage scheme”.

Data from the Department for Transport, acquired by Ms Cooper, shows that there were 601,456 diesel cars on London’s roads in 2012. But by 2015, that number had risen by 173,057 to 774,513, equating to a 29% increase. The rise comes despite serious concerns about the impact of diesel vehicles on public health.

In 2012, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organisation, classified diesel exhaust as a ‘definite carcinogen’. This was followed by a 2014 report from Transport for London (TfL) which cited that the growing popularity of diesel was a contributing factor in London’s failure to comply with EU air pollution limits. Warnings also came that year from Dr Frank Kelly, Professor of Environmental Health at King’s College London, that some diesel emissions, such as black carbon, can have a “much bigger health impact” than other pollutants.

Ms Cooper criticised the previous Mayor, Boris Johnson, for his “lax” approach to tackling air pollution in the capital and said it was “beyond belief” that he hadn’t done more to take diesel cars off London’s roads. She echoed calls from new Mayor, Sadiq Khan, for a diesel scrappage scheme to help Londoners wanting to move to lower emission vehicles.

Labour London Assembly Environment Spokesperson, Leonie Cooper AM, said:

“The dangers of diesel have long been discussed, but the World Health Organisation’s decision to classify it as a carcinogen should have marked a turning point.

“It’s beyond belief that the last Mayor, presented with this evidence, didn’t act more vigorously to reduce the number of diesel cars on our roads. His ultra-low emissions zone was too small in scale and ambition, betraying his lax approach to tackling air pollution in the capital.

“Government can no longer turn a blind eye to the serious consequences of diesel emissions. This worrying rise in diesel engines shows that they are running out of opportunities to bat away calls for a scrappage scheme.”

ENDS

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