ULEZ: Sadiq Khan and TfL 'misleading' emission zone adverts, says draft Advertising Standards Authority report

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A TfL spokesperson said the authority is “strongly challenging” a draft Advertising Standards Authority report into ULEZ adverts.

Sadiq Khan and Transport for London (TfL) misled the public about the benefits of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in a series of adverts, a draft report suggests.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) launched an investigation earlier this year after receiving complaints claiming TfL, which is overseen by the mayor, had exaggerated the impacts of the clean-air zone, ahead its expansion to all of greater London on August 29.

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Of the six adverts reviewed in the draft report across radio and newspapers, it is suggested that three may have misled the public.

A spokesperson for the ASA said the watchdog cannot comment on an ongoing case, but that a decision has not been made on the report’s recommendations.

A TfL spokesperson said the report is yet to go to the ASA council, and that TfL has “multiple further opportunities to provide further data/rationale etc”.

According to the Sunday Telegraph, the documentation was leaked to the paper by an anti-ULEZ campaigner, after the ASA sent it to interested parties.

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The ULEZ was expanded to cover all of greater London on August 29. Credit: Leon Neal/Getty Images.The ULEZ was expanded to cover all of greater London on August 29. Credit: Leon Neal/Getty Images.
The ULEZ was expanded to cover all of greater London on August 29. Credit: Leon Neal/Getty Images. | Getty Images

Two of the complaints the draft report recommends upholding argued that adverts were “misleading” because they did not clarify that claims about cuts to nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels were based on modelling scenarios, rather than actual figures.

According to the Sunday Telegraph, the draft report says: “Because the ads did not clarify that the claims were based on modelled scenarios, and further that actual data collected had not demonstrated a NO2 reduction to the extent claimed, we concluded that the ads were likely to mislead."

The third relevant complaint also related to modelling, specifically the claim that deaths from air pollution are higher in outer London than inner London.

A TfL spokesperson said the authority is “strongly challenging” the draft recommendations in the report.

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They said: “The ASA is not challenging the science. The science is absolutely clear about the significant harm of air pollution on people’s health and that estimated premature deaths from air pollution are higher in outer London than in inner London. We are confident that the advertisement is accurate. 

“Scientific analysis based on modelled scenarios and estimates is standard practice in the scientific community. We are meeting with the ASA to take them through the data and explain in detail how it is used. 

“It remains the case that the expansion of the ULEZ is playing a crucial role in the reduction of air pollution - improving air quality for everyone in London and reducing the harms to health associated with vehicle emissions.”

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