Make London a Diesel-Free City to Protect Children, Say Mothers


Toxic air is everywhere but there are places in the world that have dangerously high concentrations of it. In London, 15 major sites have been identified as having air pollution at illegal levels. A parents’ campaign group has warned that if nitrogen dioxide levels in the areas persist, children all over London will inevitably start developing respiratory problems.

The Mayor of London’s ULEZ or Ultra-Low Emission Zone was recently expanded to the North and South Circular roads. This move was met with optimistic reactions from residents, especially since over 10,000 high-polluting vehicles have been retrofitted or replaced since the ULEZ was introduced in 2019.

Londoners have also benefitted from Mayor Sadiq Khan’s scrappage scheme, especially after the mayor announced that approximately £5 million has been allotted as additional funding for the said project. The total investment for the ULEZ scrappage scheme is now £61 million.

Records show that the scheme has already removed around 5,000 older vans from London roads. This also means a reduction in toxic emissions released by vans, and this happened before the ULEZ was expanded.

Nevertheless, members of the parents’ campaign group are still urging the government to stay on track with their goal of creating a diesel-free London.

Sites with the highest toxic air readings

EDF Europe, or the Environmental Defense Fund Europe, collected data from the city’s air pollution monitors. Of the 15 locations, nine belong to the Red Routes, which pertain to major roads that belong to a network that Transport for London manages.

Lambeth’s Brixton Road registered the highest readings at 60mg/m3, followed by Putney High Street’s 58mg/m3 and the 51mg/m3 reading of Hanger Lane. All three locations had levels that were way over the 40mg/m3 legal limit.

Strand and Walbrook Wharf are sites found in London’s central ULEZ while eight of the 15 are within the recently widened zone. Crooked Billet (Waltham Forest), Morgen and Kingston roads, and Ikea (Brent) are all found outside the new boundary or in the outer area of London.

Around two-thirds of the nitrogen dioxide pollution in these areas are from diesel vehicles – vans, cars, HGVs or heavy goods vehicles, and taxis.

Founder of the parents’ campaign group Jemima Hartshorn said they are thankful for the ULEZ and its expansion but said that a diesel-free city is still the best solution, especially if the lives of children are taken into consideration.

Dieselgate scandal

The past few years saw diesel emissions in the news courtesy of the Dieselgate scandal that started in 2015. US authorities alleged that the Volkswagen Group installed defeat devices intended to cheat on emissions in their Audi and VW diesel vehicles. These devices are used to detect when a vehicle is in testing so that they could reduce emissions and bring the levels to within limits mandated by the World Health Organization.

These devices are illegal because they make vehicles look clean and emissions-compliant even if they are not. During testing, the vehicle performs within the expectations of emissions regulators, but when it is taken out of the lab and driven on real roads, the vehicle releases massive amounts of nitrogen oxide (NOx).

Audi and Volkswagen diesel vehicles allegedly had defeat devices in them, which means drivers who owned them unknowingly contributed toxic emissions every time they were on the road. The VW Group lied to and misled consumers into believing the vehicles were environmentally safe.

The Volkswagen Group initially denied the allegations but eventually admitted knowledge of the defeat devices. Other car manufacturers started getting implicated after 2015, including Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Vauxhall.

Dangerous NOx emissions

The parents’ campaign group knows that information dissemination is also important as not all residents are aware of the dangers of air pollution. They drew stencilled warnings on the pavements of the locations with the highest toxic air readings.

People need to know that the emissions coming out of diesel vehicles can be life-threatening. Nitrogen oxide is a gas that counts NO2 and nitric oxide or NO as main components. It can devastate the environment. For example, plants and crops become weak when exposed to NOx emissions and this makes them susceptible to frost and damage.

NOx emissions trigger mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. They also hurt a person’s cognitive abilities, increasing their risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.

Exposure to NOx makes a person vulnerable to certain health conditions, including asthma, breathing problems, weakened lungs, and cardiovascular diseases. Hundreds of thousands of premature deaths in the past years have also been linked to NOx emissions.

These are the repercussions that affected car owners face because of their carmakers’ lies and mis-selling. These are the reasons why you should bring your manufacturer to court through an emissions claim.

Starting my diesel claim

If your vehicle is affected, you may already be wondering, “Am I eligible to file my diesel claim?” Yes! However, it’s important to verify if you are qualified to make a claim against your carmaker, so this should be your first step in the diesel claim process. has all the information you need so visiting their website will give you an idea of what to do to ensure that you follow the right process and succeed in getting your diesel emission compensation.