The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has today called on the Government to grant him additional powers so that he can effectively tackle non-road pollution sources in the capital.

Only half of the capital’s air pollution is caused by on-road vehicles and Sadiq believes London needs more powers so that it can combat pollution from the River Thames, emissions from machinery used on construction sites and pollution from the domestic burning of solid fuels.

Since becoming Mayor, Sadiq has more than doubled investment in tackling air quality to £875 million over the next five years. He has also introduced the boldest plans to tackle air pollution in the world, including a £10 Toxicity-Charge (T-Charge) which will start in October this year, the introduction of the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in 2019 (subject to consultation), and the cleaning up of London’s public transport fleets such as buses and taxis so that they lead the way in ultra-low emission technology.

Sadiq has now written to Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, setting out the additional powers that he believes are required.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said “Non-transport sources contribute half of the deadly emissions in London so we need a hard-hitting plan of action to combat them similar to moves I am taking to reduce pollution from road vehicles.

“With more than 400 schools located in areas exceeding legal pollution levels, and such significant health impacts on our most vulnerable communities, we cannot wait any longer and I am calling on Government to provide the capital with the necessary powers to effectively tackle harmful emissions from a variety of sources.”

The Mayor is requesting new powers in the following areas:

Non-Road Mobile Machinery

Non-Road Mobile Machinery (NRMM) such as diggers and bulldozers are currently the second largest source of ultra-fine particulate matter (PM2.5) emissions in London and the fifth largest source of oxides of Nitrogen (NOx). This is likely to grow as traffic related emissions decline and as construction increases across London.

Sadiq wants greater powers for the capital to enforce the standards of the Non-Road Mobile Machinery Low Emission Zone (NRMM LEZ) – a scheme that uses the Mayors planning powers to impose minimum emissions standards for machinery used on construction sites.

Sadiq does not believe this scheme is as rigorously applied by the boroughs as it could be, especially where they already have stretched resources.

He has already invested £400,000 so that local authorities can better enforce the zone. However, he is keen to ensure that boroughs, or GLA bodies have greater ability to apply the standards.

He also thinks it should be possible for the rules of the NRMM LEZ to be applied across the board to existing planning permissions and to other users of NRMM as the current regulations mean that more than 1,000 sites are not registered and activities such as roadworks and events are not covered at all.

Sadiq also wants either himself, or another appropriate authority, to have the power to set minimum emission and technical standards for all NRMM used in London. This could be done by amending the GLA Act so that the Mayor can use his powers to regulate NRMM in the same way as he can for road vehicles.

In order to support these powers, Sadiq wants the creation and maintenance of a DVLA-style national database for NRMM.

River and canal emissions

There are currently at least five different regulators that play a role in policing emissions. In addition, current emission regulations only apply to new vessels.

With ambitious plans in the growth of traffic on waterways, unless sufficient controls are introduced, the number of people exposed to this source of pollution will only grow.

Sadiq wants to see the regulations simplified so that there is a single regulator with the ability to charge and enforce and a single emissions control framework. The body would also be able to set minimum emission and other technical standards for specific classes or types of vessels. It would also provide clarity for local, national and international shipping accessing the Thames and canals.

In the meantime, Sadiq is leading by example with the vessels that are owned or run by Transport for London (TfL). The new Woolwich Ferries that will be entering in to service next year will be some of the cleanest vessels working on the river. TfL will also shortly be retro-fitting a Thames Clipper boat with emissions-reduction technology. If successful, this could provide an important example of how existing boats can reduce their pollution.

The Mayor currently does not have any formal powers to control emissions from vessels on the River Thames or the canal network but has recently set up a Thames and London Waterways Forum, which will bring together the regulators and other stakeholders to ensure that growth in the use of London’s waterways is co-ordinated and sustainable.

Wood and solid fuel burning

Current controls on emissions from domestic burning of solid fuels like wood and coal are obsolete, with the definitions barely revised from the original Clean Air Act of 1956. For example, terms like ‘dark smoke’ and ‘smokeless’ don’t reflect a modern understanding of pollution – which can be invisible.

The Mayor’s recently published Environment Strategy set out his ambition to reduce emissions from this source, but without reform of the existing Clean Air Act this is likely to be limited in impact.

The Mayor wants the Clean Air Act to be amended to allow for the creation of zones where the burning of solid fuel is not allowed. These would complement his existing plans to create transport zero emission zones in small areas from 2025 onwards. In addition, the Clean Air Act should be reformed, so the Mayor can set tighter emission limits for new domestic heating appliances like wood burning stoves for pollutants such as PM10 and PM2.5 that are invisible and are known to have a detrimental effect on health.

To ensure these new zones are effectively implemented, local authorities should be given enhanced powers to ensure compliance, including the ability to inspect and enforce, such as by issuing penalty charge notices. Similar powers could also be used to address emissions from larger and commercial premises.

The Stove Industry Alliance and Woodsure, the UK’s woodfuel accreditation scheme, have recently launched their voluntary “ecodesign ready” and “Ready to Burn” labels for stoves and fuels to help consumers make the right choice in London and other smoke control areas. The Mayor believes that more should be done to empower consumers to make the right choice, including better information at the point of sale and mandatory labelling of products that are legal to use in smoke control areas.

The London Housing Strategy’s strong focus on bringing forward more small sites will help solve the housing crisis by opening up the market to SME house builders, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

Commenting on the draft London Housing Strategy, Barry Mortimer, Director of FMB London, said “If we’re to build the number of new homes Londoners need, we must urgently make much better use of the many existing small sites that are dotted all over London. In doing so, we will the strengthen the capacity of SME house builders to build more new homes and perhaps even attract some new SME firms into the market. FMB research has consistently shown that a lack of available and viable land is the main factor stunting the ability of small builders to deliver more homes. Indeed, over half of SME house builders believe that the number of small site opportunities is, if anything, decreasing.

“We therefore welcome strongly the Strategy’s proposal for a presumption in favour of appropriate residential development on small sites, which goes further than proposed changes to national policy as laid out in the Government’s Housing White Paper. The ‘Small Sites, Small Builders’ programme will also link up public land owners with small builders, which could make accessing public land easier for small firms. We also welcome moves which will mean that less of the Community Infrastructure Levy is payable upfront on small sites. This will really help with cash flow for smaller builders and make the economics of small scale development slightly easier.

“The London Housing Strategy therefore marks a step forward in empowering smaller house builders in London. In order to reach the 50,000 new homes London needs to build each year, this renewed emphasis on small sites is vital. However, all such progress could be undermined if the Mayor fails to protect small sites from onerous levels of developer contributions. National planning guidance states that planning obligations should not be sought from developments of ten units or fewer, but implementation of this policy in London is patchy at best. Unless the Mayor, and London Boroughs, recognise the need to minimise burdens on the very smallest developments, SME builders will continue to struggle to enter the market.”

Prime Minister Theresa May visited the scene this morning and witnessed the overwhelming devastation for herself. With many questions arising as to why the cladding allowed the fire to spread from the bottom of the tower to the top in just 15 minutes, she said that community around the Grenfell Tower are right to demand answers.

Confirming that an official enquiry will take place, she said “We need to ensure that this tragedy is fully investigated. People deserve answers. The inquiry will give them.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said “The Metropolitan Police have confirmed that tragically 17 people are now known to have died in the terrible fire at Grenfell Tower. Sadly this figure is likely to rise, and my thoughts and prayers remain with all those affected.

“Today the fire has been brought under control and the fire brigade and our other emergency services are continuing to work heroically. The operation is now shifting from the search and rescue phase to the recovery phase.

“Under these circumstances the full scale of the tragedy is becoming clear and there are pressing questions, which demand urgent answers.

This news follows the earlier announcement that fire checks will be carried out on all revamped blocks in the country.

Listen to the audio from Theresa May’s interview on the subject below:

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has today outlined his vision for London to become the world’s leading ‘Smart City’ – with digital technology and data at the heart of making the capital an even better place to live, work and invest.

Speaking at the launch of London Tech Week, Sadiq said technology is essential to solving many of the biggest economic, social and environmental challenges we face. He called on the global tech community to help tackle issues such air pollution, housing and the future of transport.

As part of his plans, the Mayor has today unveiled a new £1.6m Clean Tech Incubator called Better Futures which will help 100 London-based small businesses to deliver low-carbon and clean-tech products to tackle the causes and effects of climate change.

Better Futures will help kick start the development of a clean-tech cluster for London, developing a hub for low-carbon industries in the capital.

London is already Europe’s leading tech hub, attracting talent, innovation and investment from around the world. However, the Mayor wants to see the capital become the leading global city in the use of smart technologies and data to improve public services and city life. According to a recent report by IESE Centre for Globalisation and Strategy, London is already Europe’s leading smart city, and is second only to New York in the global rankings.1

In his speech to London’s tech community, the Mayor reaffirmed his pledge to appoint London’s first Chief Digital Officer (CDO). Recruitment has now begun to find the new CDO who will work with the Mayor’s Office, the Mayor’s Smart London Board, local authorities and the technology sector to drive the development of smart city technologies and to build London’s reputation as the city that the world looks to for leadership in urban innovation.

The Mayor’s Office is also currently scoping the potential for a new London Office of Technology and Innovation to provide a place where London’s boroughs can come together to share best practice, build collaboration and drive solutions to the challenges they face.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said “As Mayor of this great city – the best city in the world – it fills me with pride to see our tech sector thriving. New technologies are having an enormous impact on our way of life – reshaping our societies, our economies and our culture.

“My ambition now is to harness the new technologies that are being pioneered right here to transform London into the world’s leading smart city.

“The potential for cutting-edge technology to tackle a host of social, economic and environmental challenges is immeasurable. From air pollution and climate change to housing and transport, new technologies and data science will be at the heart of the long-term solutions to urban challenges.”

One year on from the UK’s vote to leave the EU, the Mayor will also seek to reassure the global tech community that London remains open to talent and investment from all over the world. New data from EY shows that London is Europe’s leading city for foreign direct investment into the technology sector, attracting significantly more investment projects, than any other European city, in each year during the last decade. International investors also ranked London as a leading global tech hub, with London featuring in the three highest ranked cities with the potential to produce the next global tech giant.

To coincide with the launch of London Tech Week, the Mayor officially opened Plexal, Europe’s newest technology innovation destination, forming Europe’s biggest business innovation ecosystem at Here East. Spanning 68,000 square feet, Plexal has been built on the principles of a mini City & will support 800 technology start-ups & global corporations from across the world.

Claire Cockerton CEO of Plexal and London Tech Week ambassador, said “Plexal will become a truly unique innovation destination not only for London but the rest of the World. The success of London’s technology sector has been built on a strong culture of collaboration and entrepreneurial spirit. At Plexal, our mission is to become the beating heart of inventive enterprise; connected, intelligent & dynamic – where people join forces, ideas spark & new business is born.”

Also at today’s event, the former British Paralympic gold medallists, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and Lord Chris Holmes MBE, launched The Global Disability Innovation Programme, a new accelerator designed to encourage the development of technologies to improve the lives of people living with disabilities.

The programme, which is run in partnership with Plexal and UCL, will bring together disabled and able-bodies experts, users and start-ups with corporates to accelerate the development of innovative businesses and products around disability.

Entrepreneurs and start-ups on the programme will focus on the development of innovations in areas such as accessible and affordable housing, transportation and how big data and analytics can be used to have a positive impact on the lives of disabled people around the world.

Lord Chris Holmes, announced today as Chair of the Global Disability Innovation Hub, said “I am absolutely delighted to Chair the Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDI Hub) and to be a part of a project with such potential to transform lives. I have personally benefited from assistive technology and believe truly inclusive design not only removes barriers to disabled people but also, essentially, benefits everyone by leading to ground breaking technological solutions or applications and truly excellent design. Technology is neutral but is an incredible tool in the hands of humans and the ways in which we respond to the 4th industrial revolution and the benefits we achieve will be a measure of our civilisation. I’m looking forward to the role the GDI Hub will play in this mission, we have a brilliant team and I relish the challenge before us.”

Also speaking at today’s London Tech Week launch was Steven Armstrong, Group Vice President and President, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Ford Motor Company. He announced that Ford will open a dedicated Smart Mobility Innovation Office at Here East focusing on future mobility solutions for Europe.

A dedicated team of Ford specialists will work alongside world-class digital companies, leading academic institutions and existing partners as it targets the near-term commercialisation of smart mobility solutions that meet the needs of Europe’s major cities.

Gavin Poole, CEO of Here East, said “The success of London’s flourishing tech sector is partly due to the collaboration between entrepreneurs, established businesses, academics and policy makers. As the tech community comes together at Here East for the launch of London Tech Week, we are delighted that Ford is joining our campus as it accelerates its capabilities to develop urban mobility solutions for Europe and that Plexal, Europe’s largest technology innovation destination has opened its doors.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has today written to the Chair of the Garden Bridge Trust informing him that the GLA will not be providing Mayoral guarantees for the Garden Bridge project.

In a letter to Lord Mervyn Davies today, the Mayor outlined his view that the continuation of the project will expose the London taxpayer to additional financial risk, both with regard to the bridge’s construction and its operation and maintenance.

Before making the decision, the Mayor analysed the findings of Dame Margaret Hodge’s independent review into the Garden Bridge project, and assessed all the information available about the project to date.

During the Mayoral campaign and since his election last year, the Mayor has repeatedly stated that he would not agree to any more of London taxpayers’ money for which he is responsible being spent on the Garden Bridge project. He had also made clear that he would not provide any Mayoral guarantees unless he was convinced that the project would not lead to additional public expenditure down the line.

In outlining the reasons for the Mayor’s decision not to provide any Mayoral guarantees, today’s letter outlines a number of ways in which the project would expose the London taxpayer to additional financial risk. These include:

  • increasing capital costs of the project;
  • the risk of the bridge only being partially built; and
  • doubts over the establishment of an endowment fund to help meet future maintenance costs.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said “Under the previous Mayor, a considerable amount of London taxpayers’ money has already been spent on the Garden Bridge. I have always been clear that not a penny more of taxpayers’ money should be allocated to the project.

“Having assessed all the information available to me including the findings of Dame Margaret Hodge’s independent review, my view is that providing Mayoral guarantees will expose the London taxpayer to too much additional financial risk.

“With planning permission due to expire this year, many outstanding issues remain, including spiralling construction costs and doubts around funding the maintenance of the bridge.

“The funding gap is now at over £70m and it appears unlikely that the Trust will succeed in raising the private funds required for the project. I am simply not prepared to risk a situation where the taxpayer has to step in and contribute significant additional amounts to ensure the project is completed.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has expressed his ‘deep concern’ about the impact of Britain leaving the European Union on the environment – and on air pollution in particular.

In an official report about the impact of Brexit on London, the Mayor calls on ministers to ‘guarantee’ that environmental regulations, monitoring and enforcement standards will be strengthened in the aftermath of Brexit, rather than weakened.

European Union regulations have overall had a hugely positive impact on Britain’s environment. They have led to British homes, vehicles and appliances becoming more energy-efficient, waterways becoming cleaner, a decline in harmful emissions and a reduction in the amount of waste produced in Britain.

Only last year, European Union regulations were used in a legal case by Client Earth, in which the Mayor was an interested party, to force the government to come forward with a new air quality strategy by the end of March – bringing quality back within legal limits.

However, the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Andrea Leadsom MP, recently told Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee that only two-thirds of EU environmental regulations would be directly brought into British law.

Furthermore, there are serious challenges to recreating monitoring and enforcement schemes that are currently run by the EU – and have no equivalent in British law.

The Mayor, in London’s official response to the government’s Brexit White Paper, is calling on the government to introduce a new Environment Act, to guarantee that environmental regulations and enforcements are at least equivalent, if not better, than the current EU standards.

This would include enshrining key EU safeguarding principles in British law, including the ‘polluter pays’ concept, ‘environmental rights for citizens’ and the ‘precautionary principle’ – so lack of knowledge is not used as an excuse for poor decisions.

Sadiq is also asking for a guarantee that recently announced EU policy – which has yet to be enshrined in UK law – including the recent Winter Package on energy efficiency and renewable energy, will be transposed into British law as part of the Great Repeal Bill.

The Mayor has made tackling London’s dangerously polluted air a key plank of his administration in City Hall. He has announced plans for a new T-charge on the most polluting vehicles from October, is consulting on introducing the world’s first Ultra-Low Emission Zone in 2019 and on extending it to the North and South Circular, is introducing Clean Bus Zones on the most polluted roads and has announced his intention to clean up London’s entire bus fleet by 2020.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said “I campaigned for Britain to remain in the European Union, but I accept that the British public voted to leave and we now must respect their democratic will.

“However, the British people did not vote to make our air more polluted or our environment dirtier.

“Our relationship with the EU has been particularly important for London’s environment. Our homes, vehicles and appliances are more energy-efficient, our water is cleaner and better protected, harmful emissions are on a long term decline and we produce less waste. This has all been helped by environmental protections and targets driven by EU directives, regulations and standards.

“The Government should legislate for a new Environment Act to ensure that the UK has an equivalent or better level of protection than in the EU, enshrining key environmental safeguarding principles such as polluter pays, environmental rights for citizens and the precautionary principle. It should also ensure that the necessary powers and resources are devolved to the authorities best placed to tackle their environmental issues and targets.

“I have made it clear that air quality is a key priority for my administration and Londoners need complete assurance of no reduction in regulatory standards and protections in this or other environmental areas. They must be strengthened rather than weakened.”

Sam Lowe, Campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said “Brexit can’t be allowed to undermine environmental progress, which is why government must commit to bringing EU environmental laws and principles into UK law. That’s just a first step, they then need to create the domestic institutions so that these laws are enforceable. Continued cooperation and collaboration on the environment with our EU neighbours must also be a priority in the Brexit negotiations.

“The fact is that climate change and air pollution transcend national borders, so they demand coordinated action at a regional and international level – Brexit won’t change that.”

Leah Davis, acting director at Green Alliance and chair of the Greener UK coalition, said: “With 80 per cent of the UK’s environmental laws having been developed with the EU, leaving the EU will be a pivotal moment to restore and enhance the UK’s environment. Today, nature is struggling and the air in our cities is dangerous to breath.

“We will need to secure the benefits of existing environmental laws as we leave the EU, and we will need to go further still, with ambitious new milestones for environmental restoration and high standards for pollution and resource efficiency. While the Greener UK coalition is ready and willing to play its part, it is vital that governments and politicians lead, and we welcome the Mayor’s leadership on this.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has used his first Mayor’s Question Time to lay bare the finances of the Garden Bridge.

Sadiq Khan said it would cost taxpayers more than twice as much to cancel the project now, as it would to complete it and build the new bridge.

TfL and the Government have previously committed £30 million each to the Garden Bridge Trust’s £175m project – with the remainder raised through private donations. Of the £30 million pledged by TfL, £20 million is in the form of a loan to be repaid in full.

Sadiq Khan revealed that of the £60 million total of taxpayers money pledged, £37.7 million has already been spent by the Garden Bridge Trust. If the project was scrapped now, this amount would be lost in full with no benefit at all for Londoners or taxpayers.

However, if the Garden Bridge is completed, not only will TfL be repaid its £20 million loan by the Garden Bridge Trust, but they will also pay approximately £22 million in VAT to the Treasury. That means the ultimate bill to taxpayers for completing the bridge will be £18 million – less than half the cost of cancelling the project now.

On this understanding, Sadiq Khan has given his support to the completion of the Garden Bridge but has demanded that it is made more accessible for all Londoners in return. Last week he called on the Garden Bridge Trust to ensure:

The Bridge to be closed for fewer days each year for private fundraising events – the current plans are for 12 closures a year.

The Bridge to be closed for fewer hours each time it has to close for fundraising events, so that the Bridge can still be used in the morning and evenings – the current plans are for it to be closed from midnight to midnight.

A guarantee that children at local schools on either side of the river will get to visit the Garden Bridge and be involved in planting and maintenance – with a rolling programme of events for local school children.

The Garden Bridge Trust to build a strong working relationship with all of London’s parks, so that seeds and plants grown on the Garden Bridge can then be replanted in parks across the capital – ensuring it has a positive benefit for all Londoners.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said “From the point at which I became Mayor, it was quite clearly in London taxpayers’ financial interest to complete the Garden Bridge project. It would simply cost Londoners more to cancel the project now, than it would to finish building the Garden Bridge.

“If the Bridge was cancelled now taxpayers will have spent £37.7 million for no benefit at all. However if we complete the project and our loan is repaid in full then the ultimate cost to taxpayers will be under half that cost at £18 million.

“So I will support the building of the Garden Bridge, but I am demanding that the project is made more accessible and open to all Londoners in return.

“I expect the Garden Bridge Trust to ensure that the Bridge be closed fewer days each year for private fundraising events and fewer hours when they do. I also want a guarantee that an ongoing programme of visits will be laid on for local school children.”

This announcement comes after the recent realisation that this is becoming a steadily more unpopular project: 61% of Londoners are against it in the biggest poll so far, which has been running in the Evening Standard for the last month, with over 4,000 participants. Whatever your opinion on the project is, it is certainly a bridge over troubled water!