TfL Starts Consultation on Proposed ULEZ Expansion

Move would mean restrictions would apply within the M25 next year

The zone currently only covers areas within North and South Circulars
The zone currently only covers areas within North and South Circulars

Transport for London (TfL) has started a consultation into a proposal to expand the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) across most of London.

If the plan is approved the restrictions would apply from 29 August 2023 within most of the area within the M25. Changes are also being proposed to Auto Pay and penalty charge levels for the ULEZ and Congestion Charge.

TfL is arguing that extending the ULEZ would make a significant difference to air quality and that the highest number of premature deaths due to air pollution currently take place in outer London boroughs.

Opponents of the scheme say that the ULEZ unfairly targets people on lower incomes who are more likely to own older non-compliant cares and the extra expense for many is difficult during a cost of living crisis. Also many small businesses may face the need for an expensive upgrade of their fleet of vehicles at a time when the economy is not growing. It has also been suggested that the expansion of the scheme became a necessity because the number of non-compliant vehicles entering the zone was far less than expected meaning revenue from the scheme was less than expected.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, says he considered a range of options when deciding the next steps to take in dealing with the problems of congestion and pollution facing the capital. In the short term, he believes expanding the ULEZ London-wide will have the biggest effect on emissions relative to the cost to Londoners as a whole, as well as helping to tackle the climate emergency and traffic congestion.

The current £12.50 daily charge level for cars, vans and motorbikes that do not meet the standards would be retained. This would be supported by a revision of the Mayor’s Transport Strategy, which is also part of this consultation. The consultation will also ask Londoners to help shape the future of road user charging in the capital. This could include scrapping existing charges, such as the Congestion Charge, and replacing them with a single road user charging scheme that uses more sophisticated technology to make it as simple and fair as possible for Londoners.

TfL is also proposing to remove the annual £10 per vehicle Auto Pay registration fee, while increasing the penalty for non-payment from £160 to £180 (£80 to £90 if paid within 14 days)

If a larger zone were introduced, it is estimated that the number of cars not meeting the ULEZ standards each day in outer London would fall from 160,000 to 46,000 and the number of vans from 42,000 to 26,000.

Sadiq Khan said, “The air Londoners breathe is so toxic it stunts children’s lungs, exacerbates chronic illness and contributes to thousands of premature deaths each year. More than half of the 500,000 Londoners with asthma live in outer London and all areas of London still breach safe levels of pollution.

“That’s why my proposals for expanding the Ultra-Low Emission Zone are the right thing to do. Air pollution is not just a central London issue and Londoners in the outer boroughs should be able to enjoy the clean air benefits the ULEZ brings.

“We’re keen to hear from all Londoners, so please share your views on my plans to build a better London for everyone – a safer, fairer, greener and more prosperous city for all Londoners.”

In outer London more than four out of five vehicles are already compliant with the ULEZ standards. For those who own older vehicles it is proposed there will be as big a vehicle scrappage scheme ‘as is feasible’ if the proposals are confirmed by the Mayor. This would build on the Mayor’s previous £61m scheme, which took more than 15,000 vehicles off the road.

The consultation runs until 29 July.

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May 20, 2022