Mayor announces plans to expand ULEZ London-wide

The Mayor of London will today announce that he has asked Transport for London (TfL) to consult on expanding the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) to cover all of London in 2023.

Despite previous action to tackle air pollution in the capital, toxic air caused by traffic is still leading to nearly 4,000 premature deaths a year, with the greatest number of deaths attributable to air pollution in London’s outer boroughs, which the ULEZ does not currently cover.

The Mayor asked TfL last year to present him with a range of policy options that could be taken forward quickly to tackle air pollution in the capital, including introducing a Greater London Boundary Charge for vehicles driving into London, implementing a low-level daily Clean Air Charge for all but the cleanest vehicles, and extending the ULEZ to cover the whole of Greater London.

Taking into account the rising cost of living and the urgent need to cut emissions, Mr Khan has decided that his preferred option is to extend the ULEZ, ruling out the Clean Air Charge and the Greater London Boundary Charge.

The Mayor is also expected to say that the best long-term solution to the challenges of air pollution and cutting emissions is smart road user charging, enabling all existing road user charges, such as the ULEZ, to be scrapped and replaced with a simpler and fairer scheme that charges motorists on a per mile basis.

Mr Khan has asked TfL to start exploring how this concept could be developed, but the organisation is still many years away from being ready to implement such a scheme.

wide road with vehicles

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: ‘The triple challenges of tackling toxic air pollution, the climate emergency and congestion mean we need to further reduce emissions from vehicles in London. 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.

‘This is also a matter of social justice – with air pollution hitting the poorest communities the hardest. Nearly half of Londoners don’t own a car, but they are disproportionally feeling the damaging consequences polluting vehicles are causing. If no additional action is taken to reduce air pollution beyond the existing polices, around 550,000 Londoners would develop diseases attributable to air pollution over the next 30 years and the cumulative cost to the NHS and the social care system is estimated to be £10.4 billion.

‘I’m determined that we continue to be doers, not delayers in London – not only to protect Londoners’ health right now, but for the sake of future generations to come. It’s clear the cost of inaction – to our economy, to livelihoods, to the environment and the health of Londoners – would be far greater than the cost of reducing toxic air pollution, tackling the climate emergency and cutting congestion. We have too often seen measures delayed around the world because it’s viewed as being too hard or politically inconvenient, but I’m not willing to put off action we have the ability to implement here in London.

‘In weighing up the different options, the rising cost of living was a key consideration for me. Because at a time when people’s budgets are under pressure, I’m not willing to ask people to pay more unless I’m absolutely convinced it’s justified to save lives and protect the health of Londoners. I believe the proposal to extend the ULEZ London-wide will have the biggest effect on emissions and congestion relative to the potential financial impact on Londoners as a whole. We are also proposing  to introduce the biggest scrappage scheme feasible to help Londoners on low incomes, disabled Londoners and businesses.’

New analysis by City Hall published last month showed that despite recent improvements in air quality, every hospital, medical centre and care home across the capital is located in areas that breach the new updated World Health Organization’s guidelines for nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter.

Over 500,000 people in London boroughs suffer from asthma and are vulnerable to the impacts of toxic air.

Early assessments of the London-wide ULEZ expansion indicate it would reduce NOx emissions from cars and vans by between 285 and 330 tonnes, leading to a reduction in NOx emissions from cars and vans in outer London of around 10%.

The expansion is also predicted to reduce CO2 emissions in outer London by between 135,000 and 150,000 tonnes.

The Mayor will also make a commitment in his speech to help charities, small businesses, disabled people and Londoners on lower incomes adapt to the potential London-wide ULEZ, with as big a scrappage scheme as is feasible to help motorists in outer London scrap their older, more polluting vehicles and instead switch to cleaner forms of transport, use a car club vehicle or purchase newer, cleaner models that are ULEZ-compliant.  He will call on the government to provide extra support for a scrappage scheme in London, as they have done for other cities around the country.

Photo by Anouk Fotografeert


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