Shaun Bailey’s battle bus breaches London’s rules on toxic air, the Evening Standard can reveal.
The Tory mayoral candidate has been touring the capital in the black double-decker, which is almost 20 years old.
He is due to complete a “32 boroughs in 32 hours” tour this afternoon. This morning he was joined by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Romford.
Checks by the Standard have established that Mr Bailey’s campaign team has had to pay Transport for London’s daily low emission zone charge because the bus does not comply with TfL’s emission rules.
The LEZ – which is separate to the ultra-low emission zone (Ulez) – applies to heavy diesel vehicles being used across Greater London 24/7. It is designed to discourage the use of older, more polluting buses and lorries in the capital.
The issue of Mr Bailey’s battle bus came to light this morning when the Mums for Lungs campaign group, which lobbies for cleaner air to protect the health of children, asked Mr Bailey for assurances his battle bus was Ulez-compliant.
Mr Bailey’s spokesman told the Standard that the bus ran on biofuel, not diesel.
But subsequent checks – which can be made via TfL’s website - established that the LEZ levy had been paid for the bus. The levy starts at £100 a day but increases to £300 for larger vehicles.
According to the TfL website, the £300 levy has been paid for the black battle bus – which has digital advertising hoardings on the side – for its use on Tuesday April 27, Thursday April 29, today and tomorrow, Saturday May 1.
The bus was also in central London on April 22, when it was unveiled by Mr Bailey – after it was late for the launch when it got stuck in traffic.
This means Mr Bailey’s team will have paid at least £1,500 in LEZ levies to drive the bus in London.
Jemima Hartshorn, founder of Mums for Lungs, told the Standard: “It’s really disappointing to hear that a mayoral candidate, who should really know how bad air pollution is for all of London’s children, is driving across London in a bus that is not complying with legal standards. He is preferring to belt out high amounts of fumes and just pay for it.”
Campaigners told the Standard there was “no such thing as a biofuel exemption” and it was similarly polluting in terms of nitrogen oxide gases.
Earlier in the campaign, Mr Bailey, who has asthma, came under furious attack from Sadiq Khan after claiming that air pollution was not a problem in London’s suburbs.
Mr Khan said thousands of Londoners were dying prematurely each year as a result of toxic air. Mr Bailey had made the remark in opposing Mr Khan’s plan to extend the Ulez to the North and South Circulars.
A spokeswoman for Mr Khan said today, following the Standard’s revelations: “The Tory candidate has opposed every single measure to clean up our air and tackle climate change.
“Driving a polluting vehicle around London just shows once again that he would take our city backwards on air pollution and climate change.”
Mr Khan does not have a battle bus but his campaign team ensured that his advertising van is Ulez-compliant.