The Mayor of London has been urged to promote the use of cleaner HGV technologies and smarter freight management in a bid to slash pollution caused by diesel vehicles on the capital’s roads.

A report released today (14 July) by the London Assembly Environment Committee showed that 40% of harmful NOx emissions in the capital stem from diesel vehicles.

It said that plug-in hybrids, plug-in electric and hydrogen fuel cell electric technologies are examples of very-low-emission technology that should be expanded to reduce harmful emissions from diesel goods vehicles.

Smarter freight management to minimise demand for goods transport into and through London should also be encouraged. Recommendations include looking to plan routes better and reducing HGVs entering London by making more used of smaller vehicles for smaller deliveries.

The report suggested that the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) planned for London, which will require all diesel vehicles to be at a minimum Euro-6 standard, should be brought in before its 2020 launch date and cover a wider geographical area outside of the Congestion Zone.

A second phase of the ULEZ already proposed for 2025- which would see a London-wide scheme requiring all diesel cars without near-zero-emissions paying a charge to enter the zone - could also be accelerated as cleaner technology became more widespread.

However, this would need government incentives such as a scrappage scheme to replace older vehicles, an overhaul of VED to reflect NOx and PM emissions and adequate recharging infrastructure to be viable.

Goods vehicles should also be considered to be included as part of this second phase, the report added.

Real-world emissions testing on cars and light commercial vehicles was also recommended to establish the true extent of pollution when used in an urban environment, and the report urged the mayor to lobby the EU to speed up the process of introducing improved tests, currently planned for 2017.

Stephen Knight, chairman of the Environment Committee, said: “The challenge for policy makers then is to phase out high-polluting diesel vehicles while at the same time providing the infrastructure and incentives required to support the uptake of cleaner, low-emission alternatives.”