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City of London Corporation bans diesel vehicle fleet purchases

City of London Corporation bans diesel vehicle fleet purchases

The City of London Corporation has banned the purchase of diesel vehicles for its business, in a drive to reduce public exposure to air pollution.

The policy is the latest in a series of air pollution-busting measures brought in by the local authority, which has a fleet of more than 300 vehicles.  

Last month the Corporation announced plans for a London-wide crackdown on drivers who left their engines idling, following a series of successful trials in the City of London. And last year it agreed a deal with Addison Lee - London’s biggest private hire firm - to automatically switch hybrid taxis to ‘electric mode’ in key areas of the Square Mile.  

It has also created a ‘City Air App’, which gives low pollution travel routes to more than 15,000 Londoners, introduced a City-wide 20 mph zone, and its new procurement rules have brought in tight restrictions on harmful emissions from bulldozers and generators.  

Air quality in London is not meeting health targets, and the large numbers of diesel vehicles on the capital’s streets were contributing to the early deaths of thousands of people every year, said the authority.  

The problem pollutants are nitrogen dioxides (NOx) and tiny particles known as particulate matter (PM10). Diesel emissions are reported to be the main source of those pollutants.  

Since 2009, the City Corporation says it has achieved a vehicle emissions reduction of more than 40% NOx and more than 50% PM10 due to a reduction in its fleet size and the purchase of newer and cleaner vehicles.  

Chris Bell, head of procurement at the City of London Corporation, said: “This agreement is a major step forward in our drive to protect the millions of London tourists, workers and residents from air pollution.

“The City Corporation takes air quality extremely seriously. We are taking responsibility for the cleanliness of our fleet and encouraging the use of low and zero emission vehicles with our partners.

“It complements the work that we are doing to support many City businesses who are also cutting back on vehicle deliveries and using more hybrid vehicles.”  

The City of London Corporation’s remit goes way beyond City borders. It sponsors academies in Hackney, Islington and Southwark, manages housing estates and green spaces across London, and operates Heathrow Airport’s Animal Reception Centre as part of its role as the animal health authority for London.  

Some models of vehicle, such as tractors, which the Corporation uses on its green spaces like Hampstead Heath and Epping Forest, do not have a non-diesel alternative. Those vehicles will continue to be used until a clean alternative becomes available on the market.  

Trade publication BusinessCar has reported that the Corporation’s decision follows that of
Camden Council, which introduced a ban earlier in the year becoming the first council to ban the purchase of diesel vehicles.  

It now operates 284 LPG and petrol-powered cars and vans, 120 vehicles running on compressed biomethane gas (the council has its own refilling station), 18 hybrids and one electric car.  

However, like the Corporation, the authority also runs diesel vehicles (134 in total) where there is not a sufficient greener alternative. Although currently running a few electric and hybrids, the increase in purchase price prevents Camden Council from buying more.  

“Greener vehicles carry an initial premium. Bio-methane is our preferred fuel source and we have considered the ‘source-to-tank’ regime as it is more environmentally friendly and delivers certified bio-methane,” a council spokesperson was quoted as saying in BusinessCar.