London is looking at banning some of the most polluting vehicles to create a low-emission zone and improve air quality.
The London Assembly’s Environment Committee has heard conflicting views on the feasibility of banning motors from parts of the capital in time for next year's Olympic Games.
It has been suggested that London could follow the example of Berlin and create a low emission zone to exclude pre-Euro 4 vehicles from inner and central London.
Transport for London presented a report to the Committee concluding that the social and economic costs of such a scheme would far outweigh any environmental benefits.
Its feasibility report, released this week, said older vehicles are more likely to belong to low income households, small businesses and the voluntary sector.
It also said it did not consider a scheme enforced using window stickers, as Berlin does, because the UK does not have a national vehicle classification scheme based on air quality.
However Simon Birkett, of Clean Air in London, insisted that such a scheme could work in London and said the TfL research failed to consider the health impacts and costs of poor air quality, which is linked to an estimated 4,300 extra premature deaths in the capital annually.
He also highlighted a recent report for the City of London which showed that 2015 emissions targets were technically achievable.
The Committee has now agreed to contact the Government to explore further the national framework within which a London scheme could operate.
Murad Qureshi, Chair of the Environment Committee, said: “Poor air quality is a serious problem in London which is affecting people’s health and contributing to thousands of premature deaths each year.
“We have heard differing views on what could and should be done to tackle polluting vehicles. We will now pursue this with Government to establish whether a Berlin-style scheme would be possible for London.“