London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone will be expanded to cover the whole of London under plans announced by Mayor Sadiq Khan (pictured).
Khan has asked Transport for London to consult on extending the scheme’s boundary from the North and South Circular Roads to the whole of Greater London by the end of 2023.
Drivers of vehicles that do not comply with minimum emissions standards are charged a daily fee of £12.50 for entering the ULEZ area. The mayor’s office estimates that 135,000 vehicles would be affected on an average day if the boundaries are widened as planned. These are mainly older vehicles that do not comply with Euro 4 (petrol) or Euro 6 (diesel) standards.
Most petrol cars built after 2004 are Euro 4 petrol standard, so few private hire drivers are affected – but Euro 5 diesels built before September 2015 might still be licensed, and would be subject to the charge. Historic tax class vehicles over 40 years old are exempt.
Khan has ruled out introducing a Clean Air Charge, which would have affected drivers of all but the cleanest vehicles. He will also not go ahead with a proposal to charge drivers of vehicles registered outside London for entering the capital.
Announcing his ULEZ expansion plan, he said the rising cost of living was a key factor in his decision but said he is “absolutely convinced it’s justified” for people to pay more “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,” he said. “We are also proposing to introduce the biggest scrappage scheme feasible to help Londoners on low incomes, disabled Londoners and businesses.”
The ULEZ was only expanded from the Congestion Charge area to the North and South Circular roads in October 2021. But Khan said there was “still far too much toxic air pollution permanently damaging the lungs of young Londoners and leading to thousands of deaths every year”.
The mayor has also asked TfL to explore how motorists could be charged on a per-mile basis depending on how polluting their vehicles are, the level of congestion in the area and access to public transport.
But a City Hall document notes the required technology for such a scheme is “still years away from being ready”.
RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said expanding the ULEZ was “preferable to the other charges that the mayor previously mooted”. But he warned it was vital that Londoners have enough time to upgrade to compliant vehicles.