Sadiq Khan’s latest ULEZ expansion plan wins wide support though not from Tories

Sadiq Khan’s latest ULEZ expansion plan wins wide support though not from Tories

Sadiq Khan’s announcement that the capital’s ultra low emission zone (ULEZ) will be enlarged to encompass the whole of Greater London next year, pending a public consultation, has been greeted with both tempered praise and familiar criticism.

Perhaps the loudest cheer from outside Labour ranks has come from London Assembly Liberal Democrat Caroline Pidgeon, who chairs the Assembly’s transport committee. Her welcome was unqualified, describing the Mayor’s move as “right and necessary” and pointing out that “air pollution does not stop at the South and North Circular”. She added that the policy should be “coupled with an ambitious scrappage scheme” to help disabled people and Londoners on low incomes replace vehicles that don’t meet ULEZ standards.

Green Assembly Member Sian Berry’s response took the double-edged form of congratulating the Mayor for adopting a policy her party advocated in 2016. Nick Bowes, chief executive of Centre for London, praised the move as “another step forward for a cleaner city” but said it must be “a short-term stepping stone to a smarter pay-per-mile road user charging scheme”, an innovation the think tank has advocated for a while. Bowes also was also at one with Pidgeon in calling for improvements in outer London public transport.

Business group London First’s response was more lukewarm, with transport programme director Adam Tyndall welcoming Khan’s move as giving a “boost to air quality across the capital” but saying it was “disappointing that the Mayor is relying on a mechanism that will run out of the road in the next few years” and hoping that the public consultation will lead to “a more integrated scheme” that will also address London’s “chronic congestion” and be “cost-effective for the essential road users and businesses who keep our city working”.

Conservatives have been negative in a particular way. Susan Hall, who leads the Assembly Tory group, reacted to Khan’s announcement by saying “to be fair Khan will have made a difference to London’s air quality” but agreed with a claim on Twitter that the expansion of the ULEZ has come at the expense and “possible destruction” of many small businesses. Her colleague Emma Best accused the Mayor of targeting “cars that are naturally coming off the road anyway” and of “cleaning our air on the backs of the poorest Londoners”.

Khan’s argument against Conservative claims that in objecting to ULEZ expansion they they are sticking up for the least affluent continues to be that air pollution hits the poorest communities hardest. He also states that “nearly half of Londoners don’t own a car” in the first place. Owners of cars, vans and motorbikes that do not comply with ULEZ standards have to pay a charge of £12.50 for driving within the zone.

His announcement, made in a speech delivered in Lewisham, also ruled out a “low-level daily clean air charge for all but the cleanest vehicles” and formally put to bed the idea of a daily “boundary charge” on vehicles registered outside London entering the city.

The boundary charge idea was included among suggestions submitted to the government in January 2021 as a condition of receiving financial support after Covid choked off TfL’s revenue from public transport fares. It was publicly rubbished by transport secretary Grant Shapps on ITV London News the following month and therefore highly unlikely to have ever been introduced, although Conservative mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey falsely claimed during last year’s election campaign that “anyone driving into Greater London would have to pay £5.50” if Khan was re-elected.

Khan said his decision to pursue enlarging the ULEZ to cover the whole of Greater London, having extended it from a small part of the central out to the North and South Circular roads in October, was informed by concerns about the impact on the cost of living. “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,” he said. He pledged to make available the biggest possible scrappage scheme, calling on government support to that end.

The earlier extension of the ULEZ saw a reduction in traffic levels and pollution both within the zone and in areas just outside it, but also a larger than expected percentage of vehicles meeting ULEZ standards, meaning TfL has been making less money from the change than anticipated.

Updated on 8 March 2002 to include London First response.

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Categories: Analysis


  1. “Wide support”? You must be dreaming Dave. Carolyn, Lib Dem and in favour of anything the Greens like so as not to be outdone. In a way I hope people take you seriously so as to lull these green fascists into a patently false sense of security. In reality ULEZ affects nobody rich enough. It only affects those who can’t afford to trade up – and then penalises them for it. But then Citizen Khan has always had an agenda which is nothing to do with the interest of Londoners, and now we know who his friends are.

  2. stephen donaldson says:

    Khan never mentioned this ULEZ extension when running to get re-elected as Mayor, knowing he would never get elected if he had. Just another way of taxing hard-working Londoners. How about charging black cab drivers to drive in London? There are about 20,000 black cabs many of them diesel but are not charged for congestion or ULEZ. Khan is the worst mayor London has ever had.

  3. Trevor Calver says:

    If the London Mayor is so concerned about the pollution levels in London, why has he not stopped the new Edmonton incinerator being built? There is clear and conclusive evidence obtained via the Office of National Statistics that infant mortality rates increase when incinerators start and decrease when they cease to operate.
    What must also be taken into consideration is the fact that it is ALL residents who live close by and downwind of incinerators who breathe in the same air as infants and pregnant women.
    I forwarded an email dated 28/1/22 to Cllr. Emma Best (one of my ward councillors) which included a podcast about the detrimental affect incinerators have and asked her to forward it to all Assembly members and the London Mayor. She said in a telephone call I had with her yesterday that she had not received it, so I sent it again last evening. May I therefore ask any Assembly member who does not receive the information from Cllr. Best, to ask her for the details.
    What is also very interesting is that after 2013, the ONS stopped providing infant mortality rates on a per ward basis and now only provide them on a per borough basis that has the affect of diluting the results of the wards suffering the most. A clear example of this is during the period 2002 to 2013, out of 625 London wards, the five highest infant mortality rates were:
    1 Lower Edmonton.
    2 Upper Edmonton.
    3 Chingford Green.
    4 Ponders End.
    5 Valley (Chingford.
    I trust this points out the true and honest picture that incinerators have on areas close by and downwind of them.

  4. Michael Ryan says:

    The Greater London Authority remains poorly served by those upon whom they rely for expert opinion on health effects of air pollution, as I discovered fifteen years ago next month. Nothing has changed, has it?

    BBC Radio London sent a journalist to interview me in Shrewsbury on 12 April 2007 about the clustering of wards with high infant death rates around incinerators.. She later emailed the London Health Observatory and was told that their expert advisers had told them that air pollution wasn’t linked to infant mortality. After the BBC dropped the news item about my research, I contacted the London Health Observatory and obtained copies of the above email correspondence. I then made a request under the Freedom of Information Act asking for the names of their expert advisers and their reply claimed that they couldn’t remember.

    On 12th August 2008, David Lunts, Executive Director – Policy and Partnerships, sent me a letter effectively telling me not to write again about the incinerator link with infant mortality (GLA Ref: MGLA180708-9944).

    In April 2008, the former Health Protection Agency admitted in a FoI reply that they’d not examined the rates of illness or the rates of deaths at all ages at electoral ward level and compared upwind-v-downwind wards around any incinerator. That appalling admission was reported in both the Surrey Mirror and the Dorking Advertiser on 22 May 2008.

    Following my FoI request in 2012, ONS released infant mortality rates in all London Boroughs from 1970 to 2010. The graph of post-SELCHP rises in rates of infant mortality in Lewisham, Newham, and Tower Hamlets was the first such graph I produced. Wandsworth was included and the rates were all similar and falling steeply in all four Boroughs before the SELCHP incinerator started in 1993. After 1993, the rate in Wandsworth, which is rarely exposed to emissions, continued to fall but infant death rates suddenly rose in Lewisham, Newham, and Tower Hamlets.

  5. Michael Ryan says:

    I wonder if Trevor Calver knows about the 11-page report that followed these questions by Darren Johnson AM:

    Question No: 41 / 2010
    Darren Johnson
    A constituent asks, is there any evidence to suggest that the SELCHP and Kings College Hospital incinerators which flank Southwark contributed to the Borough having the highest infant mortality rate in London in 2008?

    Infant morality (sic) rates
    Question No: 42 / 2010
    Darren Johnson
    Will you publish electoral ward-level data and a map showing the 2002-2008 infant mortality rates in London?

    The report starts as follows and contains errors and shortcomings, which I shall be glad to elaborate upon if there’s any interest, particularly the London electoral ward map on page 8 which failed to show any incinerator and which also failed to identify which of the 236 electoral wards deemed “data unavailable” had zero infant deaths recorded by ONS in the 7-year period 2002-2008:

    Infant Mortality: 2002 to 2008
    This Update has been produced in response to a constituent’s query to London Assembly member Darren Johnson. The GLA Demography team have previously not published any Updates on infant mortality, and so have acted in response to this external interest. Furthermore the GLA now holds a good time series of infant mortality data making such analysis possible.
    The infant mortality rate (IMR) is the number of deaths to infants aged less than 1 year per 1,000 live births. Infant mortality is strongly associated with prematurity, low birthweight and multiple births. Prematurity and low birthweight are associated with the socio-economic status of mothers, and there is a clear trend for increased mortality among births occurring to more socially disadvantaged mothers.”
    Mr Calver mentioned high infant death rates clustered around Edmonton incinerator and the above GLA report has Upper Edmonton, Lower Edmonton, Chingford Green and White Hart Lane wards coloured to show that they are among the 37 wards within the highest range of infant mortality, where rates range from 8.9 to 14.1 per 1,000 live births. Edmonton Green and Ponders End wards are in among the 64 in the wards in the next highest group (7.0 to 8.9 per 1,000 live births).

  6. Michael Ryan says:

    “Breastfeeding, air pollution and sudden infant death syndrome

    I’m surprised that neither Dr Peter Fleming nor the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths, which started in 1971, appears to have noticed that changes in exposure of air pollution correlate with changes in rates of infant mortality.

    The reduction in air pollution following the switch to cleaner North Sea gas was followed by a rapid fall in the average infant mortality rate in England and Wales, which showed that the widespread belief that high infant mortality is caused by low socioeconomic status must be false.

    Nine of the 10 councils in England and Wales with the highest infant mortality rates aggregated for the six years from 2009 to 2014 either have an incinerator or are adjacent to a council with an incinerator. The 10th of the above councils adjoins one with a major cement works.
    Michael Ryan

    (Guardian, 30 August 2016)

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