Millions to be affected by Sadiq Khan’s August ULEZ expansion

Mike Graham fumes over ULEZ extension

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Later this year, London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) will be expanded to include all of the capital on Tuesday, August 29, 2023. It will operate 24 hours a day, every day of the year (apart from Christmas Day) and will operate across all London boroughs, up to the current Low Emission Zone boundary.

Vehicles must meet strict emission standards to drive in the ULEZ including Euro 4 petrol and Euro 6 for diesel.

Motorcycles and mopeds must adhere to the Euro 3 emissions standards, with any non-compliant vehicle facing the £12.50 daily fee.

Transport for London is also increasing the PCN level for the ULEZ to £180 (reduced to £90 if paid within 14 days) to maintain the deterrent effect of the scheme and achieve the scheme’s air quality and health objectives.   

It is estimated that 94 percent of all vehicles in London are already ULEZ-compliant. In comparison, when it was announced in 2017, only 39 percent of vehicles would have been compliant.

Compliance in outer London is already estimated to be at 85 percent, even before the ULEZ is expanded.

The ULEZ has already been hugely successful in central and inner London, helping to reduce roadside pollution levels by 44 percent in central London and 20 percent in inner London.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The latest evidence shows that air pollution is making us sick from cradle to the grave.  Londoners are developing life-changing illnesses, such as cancer, lung disease, dementia and asthma. 

“The ULEZ so far has been transformational, reducing harmful pollution levels by almost a half in central London. 

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“But there is still far too much toxic air pollution permanently damaging the health of young Londoners and leading to thousands of early deaths every year, with the greatest number of deaths in the outer London boroughs. 

“Expanding the ULEZ London-wide will mean five million more people will be able to breathe cleaner air and live healthier lives.”

The Mayor also announced a £110million scrappage scheme to support Londoners on lower incomes, disabled Londoners, small businesses and charities to scrap or retrofit their non-compliant vehicles.

All the money raised by ULEZ will be pumped back into funding local public transport and with Mr Khan saying there are plans for the “biggest ever” expansion of the bus network in outer London. 

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The announcement follows a public consultation which ran between May and July 2022, in which 59 percent of respondents agreed that more needed to be done to tackle toxic air. 

A representative YouGov poll commissioned by City Hall also revealed nearly twice as many Londoners believe the Mayor’s proposed expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone should go ahead than oppose it.   

However, there has been plenty of backlash to the expansion of the scheme, including All of Bexley’s Conservative representatives – including 33 councillors, two MPs, and its Assembly Member.

In an open letter shared with last year, the group called on Sadiq Khan to scrap the plans and listen to residents in outer London.

It read: “You [Sadiq Khan] do not have a democratic mandate to impose a new road tax on outer London, having failed to include it in your manifesto at last year’s London mayoral election.

“Bexley Conservatives stood on a clear manifesto promising to fight ULEZ expansion, offering residents a chance to have their say on your proposal at the ballot box for the first time.

“When households are feeling the squeeze due to the energy crisis and post-pandemic inflation, your tax and charge hikes are deeply irresponsible.”

New support measures were also announced, including extending the existing exemption periods for London’s disabled drivers and community transport minibuses run by not-for-profit organisations to October 2027 and October 2025 respectively, and introducing new exemption periods for disabled drivers and wheelchair accessible vehicles. 

This will mean that over a quarter of a million disabled Londoners could be eligible for the new exemption periods, including those who automatically qualify for a Blue Badge. 

The Mayor is providing further support through scrapping the fee for drivers to sign up to Auto-Pay for the ULEZ and Congestion Charge.   

Expanding ULEZ London-wide will save 27,000 tonnes of CO2 in outer London, nearly double that which the central London ULEZ achieved in its first year of operation. 

The expansion is forecast to make further progress to reduce air pollution, by reducing nitrogen oxide emissions from cars and vans in outer London by 10 and seven percent respectively, and reducing PM2.5 car exhaust emissions in outer London by nearly 16 percent.

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