ULEZ will cover all of Greater London by the end of 2023

ULEZ will cover all of Greater London by the end of 2023

07 April 2022 | Kasia Parda | 6 min read

In October 2021, the London Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) area expanded from inner London to the North Circular (A406) and South Circular (A205) ring roads, forming a single larger zone. Now, the ULEZ is due to extend even further.

The Mayor of London plans on expanding the ULEZ to cover all of Greater London

Khan said the policy would help address the "triple challenge" of air pollution, climate emergency, and congestion. New plans would require motorists in non-emissions compliant vehicles to pay £12.50 per day to drive in Greater London as of next year.

The Mayor's office said that extending the zone would reduce NOx emissions from cars and vans by up to 330 tonnes. It would also reduce CO2 emissions in outer London by 135,000 to 150,000 tonnes, and reduce the most polluting vehicles by about 40,000 each day.

“The triple challenges of tackling toxic air pollution, the climate emergency and congestion mean we need to further reduce emissions from vehicles in London," said Mr Khan said in his speech. "We simply don’t have time to waste. The climate emergency means we only have a small window of opportunity left to reduce carbon emissions to help save the planet." "And despite the world-leading progress we have made over the last few years, there is still far too much toxic air pollution permanently damaging the lungs of young Londoners and leading to thousands of deaths every year, with the greatest number of deaths attributable to air pollution in outer London boroughs."

The matter of social justice as air pollution is taking a toll on the poorest communities

"Nearly half of Londoners don’t own a car, but they are disproportionally feeling the damaging consequences polluting vehicles are causing," he said. The cumulative cost to the national health and social care systems is estimated to be £10.4 billion over the next 30 years if no additional steps are taken to reduce pollution as around 550,000 Londoners would develop air pollution-related diseases.

Clean air groups have praised the policy. Sarah Woolnough, chief executive of Asthma + Lung UK, hailed the announcement as a major moment in protecting Londoners' lives and lungs. "We now want to see this scheme put into action. For it to succeed there needs to be improved walking, cycling and public transport infrastructure in outer London boroughs so people are more confident to stop using their cars and transition to cleaner travel.”

Mums for Lungs spokesperson, Jemima Hartshorn, said: “Despite having campaigned for a London wide ULEZ since 2018, I did not dare to hope this would become reality soon. We know more about pollution and it's harmful health impacts, especially on children, now than we did a few years ago - so we urge all policymakers to not rest until pollution in London is reduced so far that it no longer shortens lives.”

In order to avoid paying the ULEZ, drivers should drive vehicles that meet modern emission standards. The number of vehicles affected by the changes is likely to decline over time as older, highly polluting cars and vans are gradually replaced with greener and electric vehicles.

The transport programme director at London First, Adam Tyndall, said: “While expanding ULEZ will bring a welcome boost to air quality across the capital, it is disappointing that the Mayor is relying on a mechanism that will run out of road in the next few years." "Simply incentivising Londoners to buy electric cars will do nothing to address the chronic congestion we see across London. We hope that this consultation leads to a more integrated scheme that is cost-effective for the essential road users and businesses who keep our city working.”

Previously, Khan's administration proposed a £3.50 boundary charge for motor vehicles entering Greater London, but he has since withdrawn this proposal. His office plans to consult on the ULEZ charge before it is enacted.

The mayor has also asked TfL to investigate charging motorists per mile based on the amount of pollution in their vehicle, the level of traffic congestion in the area, and how accessible public transport is in the area. However, the technology required for such a scheme is "years away from being ready", according to the City Hall document.

Nicholas Lyes, head of road policy at the RAC, said expanding the ULEZ was “preferable to the other charges that the mayor previously mooted”. However, he stressed it is "vital" that Londoners have "enough time to upgrade to compliant vehicles".

According to Andy Marchant, traffic expert at location technology firm TomTom, low emission zones discourage drivers of polluting vehicles from entering cities, but they will become "less important" as electric vehicles become more prevalent. “When EVs become the norm, there won’t be any emissions-based restrictions preventing them from entering cities,” he said.“There’s the possibility that this will lead to an increase in inner-city congestion, even if it generates zero tailpipe emissions.”

The Mayor has also been criticised for continuing with the Silvertown road tunnel, which they say will increase pollution and congestion and undermine his other plans.

 

How do you feel about the new ULEZ plans? Do you think this will encourage you to switch to an electric van or car? Have you been considering an EV or maybe you already have one? Please let us know!

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