The richest areas of London have the poorest pollution levels
By: Leila Glen
Last updated: 30 March 2016
Official figures gathered by the DVLA through a Freedom of Information request have revealed that the Chelsea tractors and flashy sports cars owned by the richest drivers in London are in fact the most gas guzzling.
It’s no surprise that the residents of Kensington and Chelsea favour a Land Rover or a Ferrari over a humble Prius; the 44,732 registered cars in the area collectively chug out 177.7 grams of carbon dioxide per km driven whilst the London average is much lower at 163.5 grams.
What’s more, more than a quarter of cars on the country’s wealthiest town’s turf exceeded 200g/km, which is the threshold of the three highest vehicle tax bands for polluting cars.
The offending gas (C02) is closely linked with global warming and climate change; the large, trendy vehicles favoured by the Kensington clan are therefore causing a whole host of environmental issues.
And it’s not just the ‘Chelsea tractors’ at fault; other affluent areas such as Westminster and the City of London come second and third in the pollution stakes, belching 173.6g and 168.4g of co2 respectively. It figures, as the cars you see zipping round these postal codes include Land Rovers, Porsches and BMW X5’s (all sports cars or large SUV’s).
London's Cleanest Areas
Conversely, the least polluted areas are ones where you’d be more likely to see a Ford than a Ferrari parked on the high street. Suburban areas such as Hillingdon are the lowest of the lot when it comes to pollution; of Hillingdon’s 142,455 cars, only 152.9 grams are emitted per km of driving and less than 10 per cent fall into the highest pollution tax brackets.
Photo credit: Jose AS Reyes / Shutterstock
People have accused Boris Johnson Mayor of London of protecting his richest friends who drive the least environmentally friendly cars, but recently a diesel tax on new cars has been proposed. If this is to go ahead, along with extra charges on diesel cars (e. g extra parking charge in Islington) then London may finally start to clean up its act.
A spokesman for ‘Clean Air’, a campaign group in London, said of the aforementioned statistics “The next Mayor must embrace smart charging as better, fairer and essential to get London moving and clean its air."
A recent map of car emissions across London by Esri UK showed a positive correlation between affluence/wealth and pollution per car. However, a spokesman for Clean Air doesn’t think penalising the wealthiest drivers is the answer, saying “we don't need to punish people just because they want a big car sitting in the driveway. Instead we need Emissions-Based Road Charges that hammer or ban those wanting to drive large diesel cars, long distances in the most polluted parts of London at the busiest times of day”.
Another recent survey asking Londoners which factors they considered most important when buying a new car revealed that environmental issues were very low down on the list. More than 50 percent of people surveyed ranked a vehicle’s ‘green’ credentials as their lowest priority. The cost of buying and running a car was at the forefront of most consumers’ minds when choosing a car.
Director of the National Franchised Dealers Association, Sue Robinson, stated her concern at the results of the survey – “it brought to light a worrying statistic with regards to vehicle emissions.”
Ms Robinson said she had expected to find emissions and the environment as the most important factors for car buyers, however the figures tell a very different story.
She says “We will endeavour, through our members, to help educate the consumer of the importance of vehicle emissions as well as cheap running costs.”
Photo credit: Alena Veasey / Shutterstock
In order to improve air quality in London, the government have introduced "Ultra Low Emission Zone" (ULEZ) signs to make a difference in the capital.
Feature image credit: Ksenija Toyechkina / Shutterstock