Five councils have lost their high court challenge against the mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s plans to expand the capital’s ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ). The boroughs of Bexley, Bromley, Harrow, Hillingdon and Surrey County Council said they were ‘hugely disappointed’ with the ruling on Friday, July 28th, adding that the mayor and Transport for London (TfL) ‘do not realise the damage’ the extension of the zone will have when it starts to be implemented next month.
First introduced in central London on April 8, 2019, the ULEZ area was created to help reduce air pollution and improve air quality in the city. It covered the same area as the previous Congestion Charge Zone but had stricter emission requirements. Vehicles that do not meet the ULEZ standards have to pay £12.50, daily, to drive within the zone. All 33 boroughs of Greater London, in some places bordering the M25, are expected to be part of the ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) from 29 August 2023.
“This landmark decision is good news as it means we can proceed with cleaning up the air in outer London on 29 August. The decision to expand the ULEZ was very difficult and not something I took lightly and I continue to do everything possible to address any concerns Londoners may have.”, said The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, about his Landmark High Court win
However, as the cost of living continues to impact the finances of millions of people across the UK, many motorists in London fear they may end up impacted by the upcoming tax and may will need to certain areas of the city once it become part of the ultra-low emission zone.
“While the principle of cleaning up London’s air is the right one, it has come at a time where drivers can ill afford to replace their vehicles during a cost-of-living crisis. This is being made by worse by new evidence which shows drivers are having to pay far more than they should have to purchase a compliant vehicle on the second-hand car market. We’d very much like to see additional support given to certain key workers, both inside the capital and in neighbouring counties, who depend on their vehicles to help them switch to cleaner ones as affordably as possible.”, says Nicholas Lyes, head of roads policy at RAC.
Where is Ulez currently in London?
When Ulez was first introduced in 2019, it only covered a small area of central London, known as the congestion charge zone. It was expanded in 2021 to include boroughs in inner London like Tower Hamlets and Southwark.
Since 2021, Ulez has covered the following areas of inner London:
- City of London
- City of Westminster
- Tower Hamlets
Now, it will expand to cover Greater London, affecting boroughs like Barnet, Upminster, Wimbledon, and Wembley.
Where will Ulez expand to?
Ulez will expand to cover all areas in Greater London. Here are some of the more populous London areas Ulez will expand to on August 29, 2023:
- Biggin Hill
- Kingston upon Thames
You can use a tool on TfL’s website to see if the Ulez expansion will affect you. The ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) operates 24 hours a day, midnight to midnight, every day of the year, except Christmas Day (25 December).
Over 90% of the cars seen driving regularly in outer London on an average day are ULEZ-compliant, but for the small proportion of non-compliant vehicles the Mayor has introduced a £110million scrappage scheme to help low-income and disabled Londoners and small businesses. The Mayor has always listened to concerns raised by Londoners and so from Monday 31 July the scheme expands further so that every family in receipt of child benefit in London (more than 870,000 people) and every small business is eligible for thousands of pounds in financial support if they have a non-compliant vehicle.
10 European cities awarded by EU for plans to reach climate-neutrality by 2030
10 European cities have been awarded the Label of the EU Mission for Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities, one of the EU Missions in Horizon Europe. The EU Mission Label is an important milestone as it recognises the cities’ plans to achieve climate-neutrality already by 2030 and aims to facilitate access to public and private funding towards that objective.
The cities that have received the label are: Sønderborg (Denmark), Mannheim (Germany), Madrid, Valencia, Valladolid, Vitoria-Gasteiz and Zaragoza (Spain),Klagenfurt (Austria), Cluj-Napoca (Romania) and Stockholm (Sweden).
The EU Mission Label is an acknowledgement of the successful development of Climate City Contracts, which outline the cities’ overall vision for climate neutrality, and contain an action plan as well as an investment strategy. Cities co-create their Climate City Contracts with local stakeholders, including the private sector and citizens. A first group of cities presented their Contracts in April 2023, which were reviewed by the Commission with the support of experts, including from the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Joint Research Centre (JRC). Following a positive review, cities receive an EU Mission Label, which is intended to facilitate access to EU, national, and regional funding and financing sources, in particular private investment.
In total, 100 EU cities participate in the EU Cities Mission, with 12 additional cities from countries associated to Horizon Europe.
The Commission, through the Mission Platform, will continue to support cities with hands-on advice and funding programmes, such as a €32 million pilot programme combined with a twinning programme. Another call for pilot cities with a budget of €20 million is currently open until 6 November.
How does solar energy work and why to use it?
The impact of the climate crisis has never been more evident, with flooding, rising sea levels and high temperatures now becoming common occurrences on national news.
But renewables are a relatively unfamiliar technology, which means that we first need to raise awareness about how they work in order for people to feel comfortable using them. In this post, we explore solar energy – how it works, how you can use it at home, and why you should make the effort to switch to green energy.
Solar energy is probably the most well-known form of renewable energy, but it’s massively underutilised. In fact, some research suggests that in just an hour and a half, the amount of sunlight that hits the earth could actually power the world for a year.
To harness the power of the sun, we need to use solar panels, which capture the sunlight (solar radiation) and then turn it into power that we can use in our homes. A conductor material in the panels, such as silicon, releases electrons when exposed to light, which in turn produces an electric charge. This then creates a direct current, which is passed through an inverter to create an alternating current – the type of electricity we use in our homes.
When most people refer to solar panels, they tend to mean solar photovoltaic panels (PV panels) which we’ve outlined above, but there are actually two types. Solar thermal panels are made up of tubes or panels filled with water and glycol. They harness solar energy, converting it to heat.
The fluid is then pumped around the solar thermal circuit, which goes through the hot water cylinder used for the house. So, they do not offer solar electricity, but rather solar powered hot water, which can be used for washing as well as heating a property.
Solar PV panels can either be placed on a residential property, for direct use by the homeowner, or they can be part of a solar farm. If you have solar panels on your home, you’ll use solar power first, before topping up your electricity supply from the national grid. UK homeowners can also take advantage of the Smart Export Tariff, allowing you to sell back any excess electricity you generate but that you don’t use to the grid.
Alternatively, if you’re renting, don’t want to or can’t have solar panels at home, you can choose a renewable energy supplier to provide you with your electricity. Whilst there’s no way of ensuring that only green energy flows into your home, these renewable suppliers will put more green energy units into the grid mix, increasing the overall percentage of eco-friendly electricity – so you’re essentially voting for clean energy with your money.
The most significant reason to choose solar energy is that doing so can slash your carbon footprint, reducing your impact on the environment. Your installer will be able to advise on the best solar setup for your home, based on the orientation of the property, size of the roof and how much energy you’re likely to need. Whilst solar panels won’t be able to provide all of the necessary energy for your property all the time, there’s something satisfying about running your devices on energy that isn’t harmful to the planet.
Generating your own solar energy can help you cut your energy bills at home, both because you can use the energy directly and through the Smart Export Tariff. You’re simply making the most of the geographical orientation of your property, utilising a previously untapped resource to generate power for your home. In a time where energy bills are notoriously high, this is a welcome idea for many homeowners. Whilst there is the initial cost of the panels to consider, in the long run, you’re likely to end up saving money.
UK to study environmental impact of fashion industry
The lack of a collective approach to measuring and assessing the sustainability of the fashion industry means many consumers are still unaware of the impact the clothes they buy have on the health of our planet.
Now a major project, led by Northumbria University, will address the issue by bringing together a network of academic experts, manufacturers, major fashion brands and consumers to examine how the environmental impact across the fashion and textiles industry is measured and assessed.
The project has been awarded almost £2m of funding through a joint programme between the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), and the UK’s national innovation agency Innovate UK.
The aim of the programme is to fulfil UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) ambition to transform the circular fashion and textiles sector. A core component of this mission is to fund Networks that bring together different communities to identify, prioritise and develop emerging research and knowledge exchange challenges.
The project will be led by Dr Alana James of Northumbria University, whose research focuses on creating sustainable change in the future of the fashion industry. She will work alongside colleagues from Northumbria, as well as King’s College London and Loughborough University, covering a variety of expertise, including water, air and soil pollution, forensic science, design, and big data.
They will be joined by representatives from global fashion brands including Barbour, Montane, and ASOS; sustainable clothing companies Agogic and This is Unfolded; campaign groups Fashion Revolution and WRAP; and the Northern Clothing and Textile Network, Newcastle City Council and Newcastle Gateshead Initiative.
Over the next two years the group will work together to gain a better understanding of how the environmental impact of fashion garments is currently measured, sharing their expertise to get a true picture of the scale of the problem.
“There are many issues with the current process for assessing environmental impact within the fashion industry. For a start, it relies very much on the self-reporting of data and is operated on an opt-in basis rather than as a mandatory requirement.”, says Dr Alana James. “We also need to start thinking beyond the carbon footprint of a garment and look at factors such as how microfibres from clothes are shed and the impact this has on the health of our oceans, rivers, soil and air quality.”
Working alongside Dr Alana James are Northumbria academics Dr Kelly Sheridan, a forensic scientist and expert in the transfer of microfibres from clothing; Dr Miranda Prendergast-Miller, an environmental geographer specialising in soil ecology; Professor Anne Peirson-Smith, Head of Fashion and expert in sustainable fashion and youth style; and Professor of Air Quality Management Anil Namdeo, whose research covers the monitoring, modelling and management aspects of air quality.
They are joined by Dr Tom Stanton of Loughborough University, who researchers the impact of clothing fibres on freshwater environments; and Dr Matteo Gallidabino, a Lecturer in Forensic Chemistry at King’s College London, who also specialises in the transfer and impact of microfibres from clothing.
The fashion and textile industry is estimated to be worth £21 billion to the UK economy, and provides more than half a million jobs. But globally, the sector causes 8 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions and 20 per cent of wastewater. Fashion uses more energy than both aviation and shipping combined. The complexity and reach of the industry means true impact on the environment is not fully understood.
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