London to explore Ultra Low Emission Zone expansion in 2023

London’s ULEZ was expanded in October 2021 and sees motorists pay daily charges for polluting vehicle usage

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan is expected to unveil plans to expand ULEZ “London-wide” later on today (4 March).

Khan and Transport for London will launch a consultation on expanding the ULEZ boundary in 2023, based on stakeholder views. The decision will see plans for a proposed £3.50 boundary charge to enter Greater London and a daily clean air charge for non-zero-emission vehicles to be scrapped.

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.

“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.”

London’s ULEZ was expanded in October 2021 and sees motorists pay daily charges for polluting vehicle usage. The expansion from central London now means the ULEZ is 18 times bigger. Because of the expansion, 3.8 million people now live and work within the ULEZ, with the area size representing one-quarter of Greater London.

Prior to that expansion, ULEZ had delivered a 44% reduction in roadside NOx concentrations pre-pandemic.

At the start of the year, the London Assembly published plans detailing four ways in which the capital could decarbonise its operations, including public transport, to meet net-zero by 2030 – an accelerated target announced by Mayor Sadiq Khan in 2020.

The report details who needs to happen to enable the net-zero transition in the city. The pathway is dependent on things progressing to plan with the national plans to ban new petrol and diesel car sales, and with an expansion of London’s Ultra-Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) to cover all of Greater London by 2024.

However, City Hall analysis warns that 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. Separate analysis shows vehicle congestion cost the capital £5.1bn last year.

Transport for London’s director of strategy and policy Christina Calderato said: “Road-based transport has for many years been a major contributor towards poor air quality and carbon emissions and we are determined to tackle this through a wide range of programmes across TfL. The world-leading road user charging schemes we’ve delivered throughout the last two decades have been really effective, but it is clear that as a city we need to go further.

“We know that Londoners understand the Ultra Low Emission Zone, and expanding it to cover all roads and bring the area in line with the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) will be hugely beneficial for improving air quality across the whole city. We look forward to further developing the scheme through formal and comprehensive public consultation later this year.”

Matt Mace

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