Sadiq Khan today claimed that a huge expansion of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) starting from 25 October will bring “significant health benefits to millions of Londoners” and mocked London Assembly Conservatives for opposing it.
Speaking at this month’s Mayor’s Question Time session at City Hall, Khan said his introduction in Central London of a ULEZ in April 2019, preceded from October 2017 by a Toxicity Charge, have shown that “focussing on emissions works and that the impacts on air quality can be rapid”, resulting in 87 per cent of vehicles driving in the zone currently meeting the required standard compared with 39 per cent in early 2017.
During a meeting at which he also announced that Night Tube services will recommence on the Victoria and Central lines from 27 November, the Mayor said the ULEZ, originally a Boris Johnson policy which Khan introduced a year sooner than had been scheduled by his Tory predecessor, has “helped reduce toxic nitrogen dioxide by nearly half and fine particulate matter [microscopic airborne particle pollution] by 27 per cent and carbon emissions by six per cent” in the central zone which is why he is enlarging it 17-fold to cover the whole of the capital within but not including the North and South Circular roads.
Khan said that “six in ten households in the expanded zone do not own a car but suffer appalling air quality caused in part by polluting vehicles” and that, in combination with more stringent rules for the 13-year-old Londonwide Low Emission Zone (LEZ), it will “reduce nitrogen dioxide emissions from vehicles by 30 per cent across London in 2021.”
The penalty charge for entering and driving within the expanded ULEZ in a non-compliant vehicle will be £12.50 a day. The Mayor was challenged by Conservative London Assembly Member Susan Hall, who expressed concern “that people don’t realise this is coming and will be devastated once it has come in” and will need help with replacing older vehicles that don’t comply with ULEZ standards.
Hall said she understands that one of the vehicle scrappage schemes brought in by the Mayor to help Londoners to provide grants for Londoners and businesses to meet the cost of buying ULEZ and LEZ-compliant vehicles is running low and sought a an assurance that funding would be sufficient to meet demand after the large ULEZ comes into effect. Conservative AMs have previously suggested the Mayor earmarking part of his Business Rate fund for this purpose.
Khan said that if the more than £61 million of scrappage scheme money proves insufficient, he will “find ways we can support those Londoners that need it” then thanked London Tories for boosting publicity about ULEZ expansion by distributing leaflets about it, “letting them know that ULEZ is coming, and that you [Conservatives] oppose it.”
TfL information about the expansion has been broadcast on TV and radio, disseminated through posters at bus stops and on the Underground and through other channels. Khan had earlier complained that the government has provide assistance with scrappage schemes to Birmingham and Bath, but not to London.
The partial return of the Night Tube, which was suspended at the start of the pandemic in order to redeploy staff to maintaining a day time London Underground service, was described by the Mayor as “another great sign that our city is getting back on its feet” and important “not only to the safety and confidence of Londoners travelling home at night but to London’s thriving night time economy.”
He added that Night Tube services would complement what he described as “the most extensive bus network in London’s history”. There are fears that the government, which has supported TfL’s Covid-ravaged finances with a series of short-term funding packages, will demand bus service reductions as a condition of its next funding deal after the current one expires on 11 December.
On London is a small but influential website which strives to provide more of the kind of journalism the capital city needs. Become a supporter for £5 a month or £50 a year and receive an action-packed weekly newsletter and free entry to online events. Details here.