ES Views: Blame minicabs and street closures for worse pollution

Black cabs are criticised as contributing to London's air pollution: PA

The Mayor’s proposals to reduce air pollution in London by taxing diesel vehicles are commendable. But why isn’t anyone discussing the elephant in the room — private-hire vehicles working for Uber?

The licensing of around 62,000 minicabs, as opposed to 22,000 black cabs, encourages Uber drivers to roam London’s congested streets looking for fares, contributing hugely to pollution.

Adding to the problem is the policy of blocking off many roads, particularly in the WC1 area where I live and work, so that drivers wanting to travel from east to west London have precious few options without making highly circuitous detours.

These blockages, and the narrowing of roads to give cyclists dedicated lanes, often cause traffic to grind to a standstill, giving rise to yet more noxious fumes.

When will Transport for London recognise that it is in its power to reverse these ill-advised policies to reduce congestion and help clean the air on London’s streets?!
Sally Carewe

Something must be done to clean up London’s air. Having survived the smogs of the Fifties, I don’t want to succumb to fumes belched out by thousands of diesel cars, buses and trucks.

But why introduce a tax on the innocent party, the motorist? It was the Government that got it wrong when it decided to encourage people to buy diesels, and the car manufacturers that failed to meet promised emissions targets. All Mr Khan’s scheme will do is make it harder for those who own older cars to save up for a newer one.
Colin Maunder

First Boris Johnson and now Sadiq Khan continue to licence polluting 15-year-old black cabs. This is nonsense. Why are these awful vehicles treated like sacred cows and even licensed at all? At least most Uber and Addison Lee vehicles are low-emission hybrids or even electric vehicles.

Black cabs that do not meet Euro 5 standards should be scrapped on January 1 and those remaining should be made to pay the Ultra Low Emission Zone charge like everyone else.
Peter Marshall

While surcharging diesel cars for their toxic emissions has gained a high profile, in central and much of inner London buses and freight vehicles create the most pollution.

If the Mayor could wave a magic wand and have only zero-emission engines tomorrow, tyre, tarmac and brake dust would still exceed the safe health limit for PM10s, which are responsible for about half the 9,400 extra annual deaths.

So what is to be done? Zero-emission vehicles without rubber tyres?
Prof L J S Lesley

EU must take hard line on emissions

You are right to say we need to take action on diesel [Comment, April 4] but when is the European Union going to remind car manufacturers that they must uphold its standards across the continent?

Volkswagen is paying up to $10,000 in compensation to each affected customer in the US following its emissions scandal, yet no money is going to British or European owners.

The EU must show us it is prepared to defend us, otherwise it becomes an irrelevant bureaucracy to us all.
Murad Qureshi

Why wait for a diesel tax to kick in?

I must be missing something in your article ["Diesel cars 12 times over toxic limit in London", April 4], The measures may make money for TfL but how will they guarantee pollution levels will go down when charging starts in two years?

Why not start testing diesels now and immediately ban any that do not meet Euro 6 limits?
Howard Rafael

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The UK needs both Crossrail 2 and HS3

Your story [“Developers: Government must back Crossrail 2 to boost housing”, April 3] raised a concern that Crossrail 2 could be “eclipsed by HS3 in the north of England”. It would be a huge mistake if Crossrail 2 and HS3 became an either-or choice.

As we prepare for Brexit, we need to invest in infrastructure projects that will generate jobs and future growth. Better transport links across our cities will be good for commuters and businesses — they can provide a vital boost to the UK economy at a time when we need to be firing on all cylinders.

Crossrail 2 can be predominantly funded by London itself, as Crossrail 1 has been. London, as well as the whole of the UK, will benefit if Crossrail 2 stays on track.
John Dickie, director of strategy and policy, London First

We would have to defend Gibraltar

James McGrory misses the point of Michael Howard’s albeit flippant analogy that Theresa May might be prepared to do over Gibraltar what Margaret Thatcher did about the Falklands [Letters, April 4].

We went to war to retake the Falklands after they were invaded by Argentina; the same would apply in the unlikely event that Spain invaded Gibraltar. A non-aggression pact would be void if either party broke it.
J M C Watson

At present the media are concentrating on the effect Brexit will have on Gibraltar but Westminster seems to have forgotten about Northern Ireland and how much its economic and political future is at risk as a consequence of the Brexit result in England and Wales. We should ensure that the risks are more widely known.
Chris Sharkey

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Grand national is still too dangerous

The racing authorities say the Grand National is getting safer [Letters, April 4] but it’s no fun for the horses. Last year’s Aintree meeting was the deadliest this century — six horses died during three days of racing.

The suffering of animals should not be a source of entertainment to us — it is about time this cruel event was ended.
Mark Dawes, Waltham Forest & Redbridge Green Party

Arsenal fans should appreciate Wenger

Perhaps if Arsenal finish outside the top four Arsene Wenger’s record of qualifying for the Champions’ League for 20 consecutive years might be appreciated.

The fans who complain about the lack of progress under him may be more willing to get behind the club if they finish outside the top four, although I’m sure Liverpool and Man United supporters can tell them that it is no easy task to get back there.
David Harris

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