‘Need to go further’: £12.50 car tax charge only having ‘marginal’ impact on air quality

Sadiq Khan's ULEZ expansion is 'appalling' says Norris

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The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) was expanded at the end of October and now encompasses much of central London. Drivers are charged £12.50 per day if they want to drive into the zone with a non-compliant car.

The zone now covers all areas within the North and South Circular Roads, although the roads are not in the zone.

Between 2016 and 2020, the number of Londoners living in areas with illegally high levels of nitrogen dioxide fell by 94 percent.

Alongside this, there were also other reductions in London’s air pollution.

New research from Imperial College London found that changes in air pollution around the introduction of the ULEZ in April 2019 were small in comparison to these longer-term improvements.

Dr Marc Stettler, the corresponding author of the research from Imperial’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Centre for Transport Studies, commented on the findings.

He said: “Our research suggests that a ULEZ on its own is not an effective strategy to improve air quality.

“The case of London shows us that it works best when combined with a broader set of policies that reduce emissions across sectors like bus and taxi retrofitting, support for active and public transport, and other policies on polluting vehicles.

“Cities considering air pollution policies should not expect ULEZs alone to fix the issue as they contribute only marginally to cleaner air.

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“This is especially the case for pollutants that might originate elsewhere and be blown by winds into the city, such as particulate matter and ozone.

“Since the London ULEZ was introduced, similar schemes have been introduced in Bath, Birmingham and Glasgow, yet on a much smaller scale.

“Several other cities have plans to implement clean air zones and our findings could contribute to the development of their policy.”

The decision to expand the ULEZ was met with harsh criticism from drivers over the financial impact it would have on certain groups of drivers.

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