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Sadiq Khan has launched a consultation on plans to expand London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (Ulez) to cover the entire city – encompassing 3.5 million more people – in a bid to tackle the capital’s ‘toxic air crisis’.
The mayor is proposing to extend the scheme’s boundary from the North and South Circular Roads to the whole of Greater London from August 29 next year.
Drivers of vehicles which do not comply with minimum emissions standards are charged a daily fee of £12.50 for entering the Ulez.
Analysis by the PA news agency found that more than 3.5 million more people will live within the zone if it is expanded as planned.
The mayor’s office estimated that an additional 135,000 vehicles would be affected, meaning it could rake in almost £1.7million extra per day.
It comes after the introduction of the much-hated Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs), which close some roads to through-traffic to try to reduce pollution on residential streets.
A raft of LTNs in London were scrapped last year after they were found to increase local congestion and caused ‘no material change in air quality’.
In launching its latest consultation, conducted by Transport for London (TfL), Mayor Khan’s office warned that the capital is suffering a ‘toxic air crisis’, with around 4,000 premature deaths in 2019 attributed to filthy air.
Sadiq Khan (pictured) is proposing to extend the Ulez scheme’s boundary from the North and South Circular Roads to the whole of Greater London from August 29 next year
Drivers of vehicles which do not comply with minimum emissions standards are charged a daily fee of £12.50 for entering the Ulez
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has plotted for the Ultra Low Emission Zone to grow more than four times its current size, stretching from Heathrow airport to Upminster and Enfield to Biggin Hill, from the end of 2023
The boroughs of Barnet, Bromley, Croydon and Havering had the most deaths, demonstrating that poor air quality ‘is not just a central London problem’, according to Mr Khan’s office.
Whether or not a vehicle is liable for the Ulez charge depends on how much nitrogen dioxide (NO2) it emits.
NO2 damages lungs and can exacerbate existing conditions such as asthma and lung and heart disease.
For diesel cars to avoid the charge they must generally have been registered after September 2015, while most petrol models registered from 2005 are exempt.
Mr Khan previously ruled out introducing a Clean Air Charge, which would have affected drivers of all but the cleanest vehicles.
He also decided not to go ahead with a proposal to charge drivers of vehicles registered outside London for entering the capital.
Is your car CAZ, LEZ, ULEZ and ZEZ compliant?
Knowing your car’s Euro emissions rating is more important than ever, given the increasing number of levies and fines being introduced for older cars, especially diesels.
Most Clean Air, Low Emission and Ultra Low Emission Zones being – or already – implemented impact pre-Euro 4 emissions petrol and pre-Euro 6 emission diesel cars.
It’s worth using the ULEZ checker online (or via your car’s V5/V5C logbook at the bottom of Page 2 in the section entitled ‘Exhaust Emissions’) to see which category your models falls into, though it roughly will be designated by when it was first registered, as listed below:
Euro 1 – from 31 December 1992
Euro 2 – from 1 January 1997
Euro 3 – from 1 January 2001
Euro 4 – from 1 January 2006 (common minimum standard for petrol cars)
Euro 5 – from 1 January 2011
Euro 6 – from 1 September 2015 (common minimum standard for diesel cars
Announcing his plans in March, Mr Khan said: ‘Exposure to toxic air pollution shouldn’t be a postcode lottery.
‘Every Londoner, including those living in outer London, should be able to breathe clean air. That’s why I’ve announced a proposal to expand the ULEZ London-wide in 2023.’
Mr Khan said in an official statement in March: ‘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.’
He added: ‘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.’
Anyone driving into London in a diesel car that doesn’t meet Euro 6 emission standards – generally motors registered after September 2015 – have to pay a daily £12.50 levy to enter the zone.
For petrol car drivers, only vehicles that fail to meet Euro 4 standards – registered after 2005 – are charged under the scheme’s existing rules.
Drivers who fail to pay receive a £160 fine, which is cut to £80 if paid within a fortnight of receiving a penalty notice.
Mr Khan said the expansion covering all 33 boroughs including the City of London would be supported by the ‘biggest scrappage scheme feasible to help Londoners on low incomes, disabled Londoners and businesses’.
A similar scheme was available ahead of October 2021’s extension, though it ran out the day ULEZ was extended across the capital.
The aim of the latest extension – according to Mayor Khan – is to reduce congestion and cut air pollution levels.
However, it will also see additional funds for TfL, which have been hit hard financially by the Covid-19 pandemic and a resulting drop in public transport use in the capital.
According to City Hall, the fresh expansion could see an estimated 20,000 to 40,000 fewer polluting vehicles driven in London, which would result in a 10 per cent cut in harmful nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions.
This compares to 47,000 fewer older – and ‘dirtier’ – vehicles a day off the capital’s roads and an estimated 30 per cent cut in NOx from the October expansion.
Low-traffic neighbourhoods are blamed for delays to more than 3,000 fire engines out on emergency calls in London
LTNs were blamed for delays to more than 3,000 fire engines out on emergency calls in the capital last year.
Analysis of data from London Fire Brigade showed firefighters had slowed response times 3,035 times last year and a fifth of the delays happened because of traffic calming measures.
It was a 42 per cent increase on that stats for 2020, when traffic calming measures such as LTNs, speed bumps and 20mph zones caused 2,145 delays to firefighters.
A Department for Transport spokesman said: ‘Well-designed traffic calming schemes need not cause congestion and can help the emergency services by reducing the amount of traffic on certain streets.
‘The detailed design of these schemes is a matter for local authorities.’
The move would likely see thousands of drivers forced into buying newer car that comply with the rules, which will hit the poorest hardest and could force many who can’t afford to replace their existing vehicles out of private vehicle ownership entirely.
Ian Plummer, commercial director at Auto Trader, previously described the extension as ‘deeply unhelpful’ for many motorists.
‘The scheme is designed to encourage people to drive greener vehicles, which is all well and good, but when the majority of people can’t afford to buy an EV at the moment it’s likely to make little difference to the Mayor’s greener ambitions,’ he said.
‘Until electric vehicles are more affordable we are not likely to see mass adoption, most new EVs carry a 20 per cent price premium when compared to an internal combustion engine vehicle, so unless you live in the most affluent postcodes they will remain out of reach.
‘If the mayor is trying to encourage people to drive greener cars, people need incentives to change, we’ve seen the stick approach time and time again and it just won’t make people change cars.’
Michael Lloyd of the Federation of Small Businesses said there is ‘great cause for concern’ over plans for an extension.
He insisted that companies ‘want to do the right thing by the environment’ but many ‘simply cannot afford’ to replace their vehicles with ULEZ-compliant models.
An expansion of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) camera to enforce the ULEZ limits will also likely require significant investment from TfL, which already spent around £130million installing 750 cameras as part of last October’s extension.