City Hall’s controversial plan to extend the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) to cover the whole of the capital will go ahead from 29 August next year, Sadiq Khan has confirmed.
The decision comes despite mounting pressure on the Mayor over the cost-of-living impacts of the scheme, which will see older, more polluting vehicles that fail to meet emissions targets charged £12.50 a day to drive within the Greater London area.
The expansion will be accompanied by a £110 million scrappage scheme helping residents replace non-compliant vehicles and the “biggest expansion of the outer London bus services in history”, according to Khan, adding an extra million kilometres to the network.
The scrappage scheme will be available to low income and disabled Londoners, charities, small businesses and sole traders, with free travel cards for up to two years available as part of the package. Grace periods before the charge kicks in will also be extended for disabled drivers and community transport minibuses to October 2027 and October 2025 respectively.
Giving the scheme the green light was one of the “toughest decisions I’ve taken,” Khan said ahead of the announcement. “But I am not willing to let political expediency trump public health,” he added. “From August next year more than five million Londoners will be breathing cleaner air.”
Air pollution caused by the city’s traffic contributes to some 4,000 premature deaths a year, according to City Hall, with the top ten boroughs for premature death all in outer London. Those suffering the worst consequences of air pollution were least likely to own a car, Khan said.
New City Hall figures released last week showed a sharp rise in the numbers of London children admitted to hospital with asthma in 2021/22 – up 64% on 2020/21 when Covid saw lower than usual pollution levels. Around half the children affected were from minority ethnic backgrounds
Some reports had suggested that two-thirds of respondents to TfL’s consultation on the scheme said it should not go ahead. The consultation was “not a referendum,” said Khan. A separate poll commissioned by City Hall had shown 51 per cent backing for the scheme, with only 27 per cent opposed.
No government funding had been made available for the scrappage scheme, Khan confirmed. The funding deal agreed between City Hall, TfL and Whitehall earlier this year also specifically barred the Mayor from using government grant to cover the wider costs of implementing the expansion.
Last week the London Assembly sanctioned an update to City Hall’s statutory transport strategy, paving the way to the expansion as well as possible wider road user charging schemes in the future.
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