Mayor’s farcical T-charge is a smoke-screen
Sadiq Khan’s farcical plan to clean up London’s air fails to mention aviation as real cause of the UK’s smogs…
On Monday 5th July 2015 Sadiq Khan, the new Mayor of London unveiled his plan to tax drivers of older and higher-polluting vehicles entering the congestion charging zone. The misguided idea forms part of a wider initiative to reduce air pollution in London, but the plans do not address, or even mention the real cause of the poor air quality in the capital rendering them utterly farcical and confirming that the establishment are clearly trying anything they can to divert attention from the massive pollution from aviation over the UK.
Timed to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the Clean Air Act Mr Khan plans to clamp down on pollution from vehicles in the whole of London, rather than just in the central zone as it currently stands, and plans to drastically cut the level of emissions in central London creating an Ultra Low Emissions Zone or ULEZ.
His press release states:
– Implementing a £10 Emissions Surcharge (dubbed the ‘T-charge’) on the most polluting vehicles entering central London from 2017. The charge would apply to all vehicles with pre-Euro 4 emission standards (broadly speaking those registered before 2005) and will cost an extra £10 per day on top of the existing Congestion Charge.
– Introducing the central London Ultra-Low Emission Zone one year earlier in 2019
– Extending the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (‘ULEZ’) beyond central London from 2020: for motorcycles, cars and vans, to the North and South Circular; and for lorries, buses and coaches London-wide
The full text including the other measures can be seen here.
Barking up the wrong tree
All impressive sounding stuff but all this big-talk from the new kid on the block is clearly just a fanfare to accompany his arrival on the London Stage and try to win favour. The entire plan is utterly misguided at best, or at worst a blatant attempt to divert attention away from the real cause of the terrible pollution in the capital… aviation. Having listened carefully to him since his appointment as Mayor of London, we suspect the latter. This would also explain why Mr. Cameron cosied up to him so quickly despite him being a Labour Mayor. Mr Cameron’s soundbite “We’re all in this together” seems to have been a bit of a clue.
Mr. Khan’s plan promises to clean London up and employs a number of measures to do so, by penalising people and restricting freedom of movement of vehicles. All cleverly disguised as environmental but this is not about cleaning up at all. If it were it would tackle the real causes and not focus on the small and almost inconsequential contribution of the individual as the establishment like to do now. Blame the people and the Poli-Comm establishment get off the hook.
There are also a number of serious problems with his plan which we felt we had to highlight.
- The number of diesel vehicles using roads in and around London does not equate to the levels of CO2 and NO2 being recorded.
- Most of those vehicles are modern, and hence extremely clean and efficient so taxing the few older ones will make little difference to the overall emissions from vehicles and no difference at all to overall pollution levels.
- Aviation emissions are not being considered, yet as many as 1000+ flights pass over London each day. Even more disturbingly many are transient flights which are routed out of their way to pass over the capital.
- The poor air quality being recorded is not restricted to London and indeed most smog alerts are for the entire South of England and often the Midlands.
- Maps detailing the concentrations of the pollution correlate directly to flight paths across UK airspace.
With an estimated 10,000 deaths a year attributed to poor air quality in the capital alone, and estimates ranging from 28,000 to 60,000 across the UK, this is no trivial matter and it strikes us as incredible that the real cause is being avoided at all cost in favour of nonsense about cars. Furthermore to then use this very serious situation to raise more taxes is simply disgusting behaviour, especially from new Mayor of London who claims to be championing the people and to be full of fresh new ideas. Really? Well how about you look up at the sky on any day that is not overcast and watch as the planes fly over and dump vast amounts of aerosols into the air we breathe.
We wrote to Sadiq Khan detailing our concerns:
I read with interest your recent plans to penalise diesel vehicle drivers in London by increasing the Congestion Charge for higher polluting vehicles.
I am assuming your reasoning is that you hold accountable those drivers for creating poor air quality in and around London as a result of emissions from those vehicles. With respect Sir, I must point out to you that your reasoning is misguided and highlights either a complete lack of understanding of the reality of the situation or an unwillingness to tackle the real issue. The high levels of pollution in London, and indeed the entire South East of England, is as a direct result of emissions from commercial aviation, not vehicles of any type.
Modern diesel engines are extremely efficient and clean. Statistically it is impossible for the traffic levels we see now on the roads of the South East to be causing such high levels of pollution. Furthermore, in recent years the smogs that we have experienced in the UK are not restricted to London and the South East at all, and are indeed ubiquitous. This is further confirmation that you are, for some reason misunderstanding the situation.
There is also research currently being conducted to suggest that the levels of CO2 and NO2 in London are far greater than can be explained by vehicles alone.
I request the opportunity to meet and speak with you in person about this as a matter of urgency. I feel your position as Mayor of London could be a great opportunity to shine a light on this little known issue. Indeed there seems to be an unwillingness across the entire establishment, including NGOs and even environmental organisations such as Client Earth to acknowledge this very alarming situation.
Blaming vehicle owners is wrong and misguided. Any attempt to do so will surely result in a legal challenge, which would bring about the same result as might be achieved by holding discussions on the topic, but in a more dramatic way. I urge you to consider very carefully my comments and to agree to meet me at your earliest convenience to allow me to present evidence of this to you so that you may be in a better position to deal with this situation effectively.
We dont hold out any hope of a response and even less of the chance to meet him and discuss this.
Let’s look at the above points in more detail.
1. Research carried out by Dr. James Lee, an atmospheric chemist at the University of York, into the very high levels of CO2 and NO2 being recorded in London. During a program on Radio 4 some time ago Dr. Lee suggested that the number of vehicles present on the roads in London cannot account for the extremely high levels of these pollutants. It simply does not add up. Industrial sources of CO2 and NO2 have all but disappeared from London as most factories have closed to make way for housing, and the Clean Air Act 1956 has enforced tight restriction of smoke emissions from other sources.
There should not be this much pollution in London, so where is coming from?
2. We have not managed to do the stats on this as it’s quite complex, suffice to say that modern diesel engines are extremely efficient.
The clean air initiative proposed by the Mayor will target older and high-polluting vehicles in central London initially with the creation of the ULEZ, but the ULEZ will be rolled out across the entire Greater London area by 2019, preventing most pre-2005 vehicles from coming into the entire London zone without paying £20+ which is catastrophically unfair, especially as most of those types of vehicles will be owned by poorer people who live in suburbia and probably rely on them to commute or work in London. Unfairness aside, we agree with Dr Lee that these vehicles alone cannot account for the massive levels of toxic gases that are being recorded in London, so preventing those vehicles from entering London will not cure the problem, it will just force people to buy newer cars and raise tax revenues. So as is often the case with national and local government initiatives, we see a sheep in wolf’s clothing – a seemingly bold move to address the issue but which will have almost no environmentally positive results at all and will make the poorer people in society suffer. Not very Labour is it Mr. Khan !
3. Why are aviation emissions not being included in the discussions. The image below is an example of what can be spewed from some jets that travel over London. The aircraft in the image are modern Airbus, a Thai Air A380 or A340 and a Condor A320 or 321. How many old cars do we think it would take to produce this kind of level of pollution? In fact the image below shows beautifully the thick smogs that are being produced by fleets of aircraft over Europe… the air is thick with particulates and the ground is almost totally obscured.
The film below shows a snapshot of what goes on in the sky above London on any given day.
Transatlantic flights, which are routed deliberately and unnecessarily over UK cities and populated areas, begin to appear as early as 1.30am. They often travel in pairs or even 3s laying down the foundation for the cloud cover for the day. It is a baffling situation as there used to exist regulations about night-time flights over UK airspace which no longer seem to be adhered to. We now see domestic and transient aviation over the UK pretty much 24/7, which probably explains why even night times are no longer clear.
This of course allows for round the clock control of the weather. By the time most people wake up, most of the work to from the weather conditions for that day have already been done. This has come about because of the increased awareness in the public of spraying from aircraft.
As little as 2 years ago, most of the morning spraying would be done between 5am and 9am, but people have started to notice the strange lines in the sky that seem to spread and block our sunshine so they have taken to doing it much earlier. Persistent trailing then stops until enough Induced Cumulus cover has built up, at which point they continue above the low cloud.
4. Despite attempts by the establishment to present this as a London issue, the smogs are invariably national when they do occur. In fact, they seem to correlate almost exactly with flight routes over the UK. We had a hilarious (recorded) conversation with The MET Office one morning while in Devon; we asked them why visibility was so poor as it was down to about 3 miles. The wind was North-Easterly, so they were not able to blame it on Saharan sand so the weather desk advisor claimed it was blowing across from London and was pollution from that morning’s rush hour. Rather bemused, we pointed out that London was 200 miles away and it was lunchtime, with a wind-speed of 2-3 miles/hr. She paused and said it might be from somewhere else then.
This is typical of the kind of ridiculous denial that is being propagated by The MET and other complicit organisations. They will say anything, absolutely anything no matter how ludicrous, to divert attention away from the fact that aircraft are pumping vast amounts of crap into the atmosphere, contaminating the air we breathe and affecting our weather. Even if we frame this in the context of those emissions being natural effluent it is still a massive issue that is being totally ignored at best, or at worst deliberately covered up.
The following images show the state of the air we breathe on most days now right across the UK, even in rural areas with low traffic density and no industry. These images are in central Oxfordshire, but the same conditions were present from London all the way to the Midlands.
This cannot be the result of vehicular emissions at all, and so we can only attribute this to another source. If we consider that these conditions appear on days with all wind directions and other atmospheric conditions we can also exclude international industrial sources, so there really is only one thing left. Aviation.
5. The following images, which are typical of the maps showing the distribution of air pollution in the UK during smog alerts, show clear correlations to flight paths across the UK. Below them is a single screenshot from Flightradar24.com which shows distribution of aviation over the UK at 9am on a weekday.
Northern Europe’s busiest airports are Heathrow, Amsterdam, Paris and Frankfurt. Routes from these hubs cross the UK primarily in Kent, London, The M1 corridor and West Midlands, the South coast and South Wales. Those are typically the areas most affected by smogs and also with the highest incidence of deaths from respiratory illnesses. This correlation will never be acknowledged in the press though. They don’t want us to make the connection, so we are told that all this pollution is coming from a few old cars in London.
Furthermore, if vehicles really were the cause of all this pollution, the smog distribution maps would be entirely different and show concentrations that correlate with the locations of cities and road networks.
Oversight or deliberate omission?
Kings College London hosts a yearly meeting to discuss the science behind this topic – The London Air Quality Network – the last one being held on June 21st this year. Sadly we were not able to attend this event but we have been through all the PDFs of all of this year’s presentations and much of the peripheral website content too and we only found one item containing a hint that aviation might be involved in this image below. This image was taken from Professor Stephen Holgate’s presentation this year.
There is a plane in the sky in the image which seems to suggest that these so-called scientists know that planes exist. They probably also understand how they work, burning fossil fuels and emitting a similar concoction of emissions to cars including CO2 and NO2 so why are they not including aviation in the discussion, equations, proposals and recommendations? We think it is because they have been told not to by our government; the very same government that funds their institutions and research.
Aviation was not referenced in any of the talks by the key speakers. We have been unable to determine if the event was recorded so we have no idea if aviation was discussed in Q&As or in any other way, suffice to say aviation should be top of the bill and the main focus of discussions at these events and it isn’t. It has to be said that this is a primarily socio-medical event, as can be seen from the PDFs, but cars are discussed in many places and referenced to repeatedly as the primary source of pollutants in London so there is no excuse for not mentioning aviation. It’s exclusion is unacceptable and to call it suspicious would be the understatement of the century.
PDFs of all the sessions can be found here
So how can this be possible? It is inconceivable that all these politicians and scientists have not considered that 1000+ aircraft flying just a few thousand feet above them each day would contribute in some way. Let us also remind ourselves also that aviation was quietly dropped from the COP21 Climate Deal in Paris at the 11th hour without any explanation or even acknowledgement. This is a very clear sign as to what is going on here.
This talk by Elliot Treharne, lays out all the plans by the Mayoral Office to tackle this ‘growing problem’ but also fails to mention the thousands of aircraft flying over London even once, so we cannot blame just the scientists, this is a full-blown act of collusion that spans right across government, NGOs and some of our scientific institutions. ‘They’ – the establishment, which in this case is meant in the widest sense possible, including all the aviation organisations and manufacturers, as well as environmental NGOs, governments and media – are trying not to draw attention to aviation so as to keep it firmly out of the public consciousness.
Further proof can be found in the inclusion of Simon Alcock from Client Earth in the credits for the event. Client Earth describe themselves as environmental lawyers but we have discovered over time they they have little interest in the environment, and seem to be more interested in pushing government and Eco-political issues that are approved by the establishment. Far from holding governments to account they appear to be just another arm of the controlled opposition, as we now see in so many other areas.
We are very grateful to our external speakers; Dr Anna Hansell, Imperial College London, Professor John Wenger, University College Cork, Professor Anthony Seaton, University of Aberdeen, Professor Stephen Holgate, University of Southampton, Elliott Treharne, Greater London Authority and Dr Pete Edwards, University of York.
Thank you also to Masa Sprajcar from Sustrans, Shane Clarke from Team London Bridge, Simon Alcock from Client Earth and Joe Jack Williams from Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios for presenting in the discussion section of the day.
We sent a link to our film Smokers to Alan Andrews of Client Earth, who is spearheading the campaign against VW in their so-called emissions scandal. We copied in 2 other members of the organisation too, fully expecting them to respond and ask to know more about the shocking footage of jets spewing masses amounts of thick black smoke in the skies above Europe.
This was their response:
Many thanks for getting in touch and sorry that we haven’t been able to answer your previous calls and emails. However, we are a small team and have very little capacity or expertise to take up new issues such as yours. Working under the advice of leading air pollution experts in King’s College London we are focusing on road transport as the main source of air pollution in our towns and cities…
Andrea Andrea Lee
Healthy Air campaigner ClientEarth,
The Hothouse, 274 Richmond Road, London, E8 3QW
email | website | newsletter | blog | facebook | twitter
Subject: Information regarding the European diesel fiasco
To all concerned, I have tried several times to contact you all regarding very important information about diesel pollution in Europe, and its relevance to the diesel fiasco surrounding VW and more recently several other manufacturers. I know you are spearheading a campaign to investigate this situation. I therefore have asked you both to look at the following film and comment please. www.vimeo.com/88080046
I do not believe that the diesel pollution that is being blamed by some on cars, is anything to do with cars, and is indeed coming from aircraft. Please will you respond to my comments, confirm you have seen the film and confirm that you will be investigating this situation as a matter of urgency. If you do not, I hate so be so bold as to suggest that your credibility could rightly be called into question. I have spoken to engineers at Rolls Royce who manufacture the Trent engines used on the aircraft in this film. They have stated categorically that no atmospheric condition, or engine fault, other than a major fire, could possibly cause black trails to be emitted form an aircraft. The Thai Air is an Airbus A380, which is a new model fitted with modern High-Bypass Turbofan engines, so no trail of any description should ever be seen coming from it, let alone thick black smoke.
This film proves conclusively that some airlines are involved in, or are leasing aircraft to organisations that are involved in, pumping fossil fuel into the exhaust plume of the aircraft during flight. It is illegal. It is dangerous. It is the cause of most, if not all, of the pollution that the UK and Europe is experiencing.
Please allow me to come and meet you and explain exactly what is going on. I have been researching this for 3+ years now and I know very well exactly what is happening and how to stop it. You can help do that. I look forward with great interest to your response.
In a later email we also felt it our duty to point out the fact that if VW vehicles really were emitting more than the their stated emission they would fail the MOT test in the UK, and that was not happening, so in our mind the VW scandal is not actually real at all, and could be being used by the establishment as an excuse for the fact that there is far more diesel-related pollutants in London’s air than there should be. They failed to respond in any way to this information. We will be investigating the VW debacle in more detail soon to try to establish if in fact it could be possible, but when viewed in the context of the information in this article it seems extremely suspicious to say the least.
Then we found this… if we also look at the following except from the LAQN website we realise that Kings College are in fact behind the entire charade, even coordinating the dodgy science behind the Client Earth VW ‘scandal’ investigation. Client Earth say they are being guided by experts from Kings College. Those are, of course, those same experts who haven’t noticed that aircraft might be contributing to air pollution. Need we say more?
Department for Transport: Vehicle emissions testing programme
The Department for Transport has published the findings from the UK’s vehicle emissions test programme, initiated in the wake of the VW scandal last year. The programme did detect known test cycle recognition software present in some VW group cars, but did not find similar software in other vehicles. The programme also compared laboratory and real-world emissions and found: “Emissions on the test track are much higher than those from the laboratory.” This is in line with earlier findings from King’s and others. In an important new development however, ambient temperature has emerged as a key factor in the discrepancy between lab test and on-road emissions . The report discusses meetings with manufacturers where the influence of ambient temperature on the efficiency of the emissions control technology (exhaust gas re-circulation – EGR) was discussed. Manufacturers told DfT that at lower temperatures moisture can cause condensation onto the EGR valve and trap soot from the exhaust leading to a build-up in deposits. Eventually these deposits can lead to clogging, preventing the EGR valve from operating correctly and blocking the EGR cooler and pipes. It is permissible, under EU law, to reduce the effectiveness of a vehicle’s emissions control system under certain conditions if this is necessary to prevent engine damage. However, it appears vehicles are turning EGR off at what could be considered average UK temperatures. The graph below shows the correlation between lower ambient temperatures and higher emissions. This issue is explored in further depth by the International Council for Clean Transport and also in the context of more recent information from Vauxhall
So the VW emissions scandal seems to be being blamed on ambient temperature. Well, well. Anyone who has tried to research Climate Engineering will be familiar with the nonsense published by the MET Office to explain the fact that we now see aircraft leaving persistent, spreading, cloud-forming trails as low as 16,000ft on summer days, when the official figures only 2 years ago were 37,000ft and -57 Celsius for any trails to be able to form. Is it possible this is just another establishment fairy-tale to try to explain away inconvenient data? We think so.
We also attempted to discover who funded Client Earth to try to establish where their true loyalties lie but were unable to find anything. They described their funders as several, private, benevolent donors. The charity Commission website seems not to have a list of them which is what we would expect from a registered charity. There is a chance we failed to look in the right place, but even so, there is a very bad smell coming from the offices of Client Earth. How sad and deeply disturbing that organisation that we had perceived as being on our side turn out to be part of the ruse. Is there no end to the enormity and complexity of this deception we now ask ourselves.
Probably the only really good thing that might emerge from this rather ludicrous scenario is that it will give us, and the British public, a perfect chance to launch a legal challenge on the grounds that aviation emissions are not only being ignored, so rendering the entire debate utterly pointless, but that they probably constitute the sole cause of the smogs and the primary cause of respiratory illnesses in London and the UK as a whole. This will mean that Mr. Khan’s planned increase could be illegal.
Fortunately there is time for us to prepare this, but that means of course there is also time for them to re-consider. We look forward to Mr. Kan’s response to our request for an interview. In the unlikely event that he accepts we will question him on why the entire establishment, political, media and scientific, is ignoring this glaring omission to the equation.
As always, it seems as if we are being lied to, and it seems the more we delve into these issues the bigger and more elaborate the lies get, but we also discover that as elaborate as they are, they don’t stand up to scrutiny at all which means we only need some time and budget to be able to expose and prosecute these people.
We think that when they read this article they will think again about opening a very big can of worms and Mr Khan will be told to quietly drop his diesel tax hike. As always time will tel if we are correct.
Watch this pace… this article is probably the fist of many on this aspect of the campaign.
Mayors Press release on London’s Toxic Air
Presentation from the 2016 LAQN event can be found here
Blog for the LAQN 2016 event
New London Air website