A draft report suggests Sadiq Khan misled the public about potential benefits of Ulez.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is set to criticise Transport for London (TfL) for “misleading” claims about the expansion of the Ulez zone.
It comes after hundreds of people complained that the Mayor of London’s transport authority exaggerated the extent to which the ultra low emission zone would “clear up” the capital’s air quality.
It is estimated that £9million was spent on a “marketing blitz” ahead of the controversial Ulez expansion.
The advertising watchdog’s recommendations state that two complaints about two radio adverts and one in a newspaper are to be upheld
One campaigner who complained to the watchdog about the adverts said the nine-page document shows Khan “lied” about the impact Ulez would have on pollution.
The report, marked “classified”, was leaked to press after it was sent to interested parties before any potential amendments, ratification and publication. The advertising watchdog’s recommendations state that two complaints about two radio adverts and one in a newspaper are to be upheld.
A total of 578 people contacted the ASA to “challenge” TfL to prove its adverts’ claims, which were broadcast and published between January and June this year.
The authors conclude: “We told Transport for London to ensure that the basis of all environmental claims was made clear and reminded them to ensure that appropriate evidence was held to support all objective claims.”
A report from the ASA about ULEZ advertising has been leaked to press
The ASA’s investigation, it found two adverts were “misleading” because they “did not clarify” claims NO2 levels had “reduced by nearly half” as a result of Ulez, and were based on “estimates or modelled scenarios” and not “actual figures”.
The investigators wrote: “In the absence of qualifying information, consumers were likely to understand that the claims were based on actual figures, not estimates or modelled scenarios, and that NO2 concentrations had been seen to reduce by almost a half since the central London Ulez was implemented.“
Although evidence gathered from actual data indicated that there had been a reduction in NO2 levels since the implementation of the Ulez, it did not show that actual NO2 levels had reduced by almost half.“
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.”
A TfL spokesperson 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 ultra low emission zone 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.”
The expansion to the scheme has proved controversial
The ASA refused to comment on the leaked document.
However, a source stressed that the final ruling had not yet been issued and so the findings could change.
It is understood the ruling could be issued officially in the next few weeks.
Three other complaints about two other adverts were not upheld in the draft report.