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Mayor of London consults on expanding planned Ultra Low Emission Zone

Patrick McDonnell
05 December 2017
A mock-up of the new ULEZ sign
A mock-up of the new ULEZ sign


Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has launched a public consultation on the next phase of his plans to tackle London’s poor air quality by expanding the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ).

The ULEZ standards would be applied London-wide for buses, coaches and lorries from 26 October 2020 and for cars, vans and motorbikes, with limited exemptions, up to the North and South circular roads from 25 October 2021.

The mayor recently delivered the first phase of these plans by introducing the new weekday (7am – 6pm Monday -Friday) £10 Toxicity Charge (T-Charge) in central London for the oldest vehicles. This runs alongside and on top of the £11.50 Congestion Charge (C-Charge).

The next phase of Khan’s plan, the ULEZ, will be introduced rom 8 April 2019, 17 months earlier than planned. It will replace the T-Charge and cover the same central area, alongside and on top of the Congestion Charge. Unlike the charge, the ULEZ will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

The daily charge for non-compliant vehicles will increase from £10 to £12.50 (for cars, vans and motorbikes) and £100 (for buses, coaches and lorries).

The Mayor wants to extend the Ultra-Low Emission Zone in 2021. This could affect 100,000 cars a day, 35,000 vans a day and 3,000 lorries a day.

Drivers of non-compliant cars, vans and motorbikes would pay the same £12.50 daily fee as the central London ULEZ seven days a week. Drivers of non-compliant lorries, coaches and buses would pay £100 a day.

Diesel vehicles that do not meet the Euro 6 standard and most petrol vehicles that do not meet the Euro 4 standard will have to take action or pay, making the ULEZ the tightest emission standard adopted in any major world city. The area covered by the expanded ULEZ would include all roads up to a limit of the North and South circular roads, but not the North and South circular roads themselves.

The mayor suggests benefits of the expanded ULEZ include:

  • Approximately 100,000 people will no longer live in areas exceeding legal limits, which is a reduction of nearly 80% in 2021
  • 43% fewer road kilometres would exceed legal pollution limits in 2020 and 64% fewer in 2021
  • A 71% reduction in schools in high pollution areas in 2021 – reducing exposure of school children to harmful emissions that can reduce their lung development
  • In outer London there would be a 28% reduction in NOx road transport emissions, and in inner London there would be around a 31% reduction in NOx road transport emissions in 2021.

Khan has already strengthened the ULEZ standards to include a particulate matter standard after recent health data revealed that every part of London exceeds recommended World Health Organisation air quality guidelines for PM2.5.

 “I am determined to take the bold action needed to protect the public from London’s poisonous, deadly air,” said Khan. “I can’t ignore the shameful fact that London’s air is so toxic it harms children’s lungs, exacerbates chronic illness and contributes to thousands of premature deaths each year.

“Following the successful introduction of the T-Charge, and confirmation of the central London ULEZ, I am moving ahead with the next stage of my plan to expand the Ultra-Low Emission Zone up to the busy north and south circular roads.

The mayor’s draft London Environment Strategy that sets out ambitious plans to meet these guidelines by 2030.

Other projects include cleaning up the bus fleet, creating 12 Low Emission Bus Zones, phasing out diesel taxis, funding 50 schools air quality audits, setting new standards for construction machinery and introducing air quality alerts. He has also created a Cleaner Vehicle Checker so Londoners can check the real-world emissions of cars and vans before buying them.

The Mayor is calling on central government to introduce a national vehicle scrappage fund to help people replace vehicles affected by the proposals, or to switch to cleaner alternatives.

Alex Williams, TfL’s director of city planning, said: “The mayor has set out his vision for how harmful emissions will be dramatically reduced in the capital and we are working full speed to deliver his ambitious agenda. The successful introduction of the T-Charge, the greening of the bus fleet and the bringing forward of the date for the central London ULEZ to April 2019 are all clear demonstrations of our intent to clean up London’s dangerously polluted air. The plan to expand the ULEZ up to the North and South circular is the next step change needed towards bringing the city’s air within legal limits. We look forward to Londoners helping us shape these proposals through the consultation.”

The consultation was welcomed by Bridget Fox, sustainable transport campaigner at Campaign for Better Transport. “This consultation takes us closer to a comprehensive expanded Ultra-Low Emission Zone,” she said. “For too long, Londoners have endured lethal and illegal levels of air pollution, much of it from diesel vehicles. We believe all Londoners deserve clean air at the earliest opportunity and we urge the mayor to continue implementing measures that will benefit millions of people.

"Restrictions on the most polluting vehicles are only part of the solution though. We need fewer cars not just newer cars. That means continued investment in a comprehensive network of high quality public transport across the capital, and better cycling and walking facilities. This will help deliver a healthy, prosperous future for all Londoners.”

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