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TfL seeks views on expanding world-leading ULEZ London-wide, as new data estimates it would deter more than 100,000 of the most polluting cars a day

Proposals to improve air quality across the capital and significantly reduce the number of vehicles not meeting pollution standards

A consultation on plans to expand the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) to cover almost the whole of the capital from 29 August 2023 has been launched. 

The Mayor of London and Transport for London (TfL) have delivered a range of schemes to tackle the capital's toxic air crisis, the climate emergency and traffic congestion, but further bold action across the city is required. Around 4,000 premature deaths in 2019 were attributed to filthy air, with the greatest number in outer London. Bromley, Barnet, Havering and Croydon were the boroughs with the highest number of early deaths, showing that poor air quality is not just a central London problem. More extreme weather events are predicted if the world fails to act to reduce carbon emissions, with London already seeing these in the form of flash floods in 2021.   

The current and long-term threat from toxic air pollution to public health is significant. All Londoners live in areas that breach the World Health Organization (WHO) target for particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide, around 500,000 suffer from asthma and a similar number will develop diseases linked to dirty air over the next 30 years. In the same period, it is estimated harmful emissions will cost the NHS and social care £10.4bn if no further action is taken to improve air quality.

Traffic congestion continues to be a persistent problem in the capital. Last year, the cost to the London economy was estimated to be £5.1 billion. Nearly two-thirds of the cost of congestion in London has been attributed to traffic delays in outer London. This comes at a cost to everyone, impacting businesses, bus customers and essential services.

The Mayor considered a range of options when deciding the next steps to take in dealing with the emergency facing the capital. In the short term, expanding the ULEZ London-wide will have the biggest effect on emissions relative to the cost to Londoners as a whole, as well as helping to tackle the climate emergency and traffic congestion. The current £12.50 daily charge level for cars, vans and motorbikes that do not meet the standards would be retained. This would be supported by a revision of the Mayor's Transport Strategy, which is also part of this consultation. The consultation will also ask Londoners to help shape the future of road user charging in the capital.  This could include scrapping existing charges, such as the Congestion Charge, and replacing them with a single road user charging scheme that uses more sophisticated technology to make it as simple and fair as possible for Londoners.

If a larger zone were introduced, it would have a significant impact by the end of 2023. It is estimated that the number of cars not meeting the tough ULEZ standards each day in outer London would fall from 160,000 to 46,000 and the number of vans from 42,000 to 26,000. Pollution afflicts the lives of young people, stunting the development of their lungs. These proposals would mean the air around an additional 145 schools, mostly in outer London, would meet the interim WHO target for nitrogen dioxide. The changes would also see a further 340,000 Londoners living in areas meeting these international health-based standards.  

The tough emission standards have already been hugely successful in central London, helping reduce lethal nitrogen dioxide at the roadside by around half. In outer London more than four out of five vehicles are already compliant with the ULEZ standards. For those who own older, more polluting vehicles it is proposed there will be as big a vehicle scrappage scheme as is feasible to help people adapt to the change if the proposals are confirmed by the Mayor. This would build on the Mayor's previous £61m scheme, which took more than 15,000 of the dirtiest vehicles off the road, supporting low income and disabled Londoners, charities and small businesses. 

TfL is working quickly to clean up its services with more than 800 zero emission at tailpipe buses, making it the largest green fleet in western Europe. Strict licensing standards mean that over a third of iconic black cabs are now zero emission capable. As part of the wider move to electric, all drivers are being supported to switch to the cleanest vehicles, with more than 10,000 charging points now within the M25 - a third of the UK's total.

TfL is also proposing to make it easier for people to pay the charge by removing the annual £10 per vehicle Auto Pay registration fee, while ensuring financial penalties for non-payment remain an effective deterrent by increasing the penalty by £20, or £10 if paid within 14 days

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: "The air Londoners breathe is so toxic it stunts children's lungs, exacerbates chronic illness and contributes to thousands of premature deaths each year. More than half of the 500,000 Londoners with asthma live in outer London and all areas of London still breach safe levels of pollution.

"That's why my proposals for expanding the Ultra -Low Emission Zone are the right thing to do. Air pollution is not just a central London issue and Londoners in the outer boroughs should be able to enjoy the clean air benefits the ULEZ brings.

"We're keen to hear from all Londoners, so please share your views on my plans to build a better London for everyone - a safer, fairer, greener and more prosperous city for all Londoners."

Alex Williams, TfL's Director of City Planning, said: "It's clear that the capital's toxic air is continuing to blight the lives of Londoners and progress in outer boroughs is slower than anywhere else. The number of premature deaths and current projections for diseases linked to poor air quality is unacceptable. We must act at pace to tackle this, which is why we are proposing to expand the ULEZ London-wide next year and are looking at the longer-term solution of a new form of road user charging. We would encourage people to respond to this consultation to help shape our plans."

Adam Tyndall, Programme Director for Transport at London First, said: "The ULEZ has been transformative in cleaning up London's air but there is clearly more to be done. For example, congestion on the capital's roads still costs the economy more than £5bn every year, and if we are to achieve the Mayor's ambitious net zero targets then bold thinking is required. Solving these challenges will involve difficult decisions, so it is important that Londoners and London's business engage fully with this consultation."

Oli Lord at the Clean Cities Campaign said: "London's ULEZ is envied across Europe and I'm thrilled the Mayor remains committed to it. A London-wide ULEZ will ensure everyone breathes cleaner air and especially people living on busy arterial roads, who are often left behind. We are, however, long overdue a conversation on what comes next and I'm pleased this has begun because we need to do more than the ULEZ to meet our climate goals."

Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah said: "Fewer and cleaner cars on the road is good for communities, the high street and - crucially - our health. In the short time since ULEZ was expanded, Londoners have chosen to leave their cars behind or trade them in for cleaner models. Now it's time to extend ULEZ onto the South Circular, where children are still walking along just to get to school, and beyond. Illegal levels of air pollution on the South Circular caused my daughter Ella's deadly asthma nine years ago, expanding ULEZ London-wide can help prevent future deaths like Ella's."

Jemima Hartshorn, Mums for Lungs said: "We have been calling for this for four years and are delighted to see it happen. This will help clean up the air and hopefully reduce some of the preventable illnesses caused by air pollution. But it's sadly not enough to ensure all kids can breathe easily. We need to see a plan to get rid of diesel in its entirety and look forward to continuing working with the Mayor."

Notes to editors

  • Proposals to expand the ULEZ London-wide on 29 August 2023, would see:
    • The zone expanding up to the current LEZ boundary covering almost the whole of London
    • A daily charge of £12.50 if you drive within the zone in a non-compliant vehicle
    • Operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 364 days a year (excluding Christmas Day) 
  • Other proposals being consulted on include:
    • Changes to the penalties for non-payment of the ULEZ and Congestion Charge - from £160 to £180 (£80 to £90 if paid within 14 days)
    • Removal of the £10 Auto Pay per vehicle annual registration fee for all schemes
    • Changes to the Mayor's Transport Strategy to provide policy support for addressing the triple challenges of toxic air pollution, the climate emergency and congestion through road using charging including by expanding ULEZ London-wide.
  • Proposed discounts and exemptions include:
    • Disabled and disabled passenger tax class vehicles (extended until October 2027)
    • Wheelchair accessible private hire vehicles (extended until October 2027)
    • NHS patient reimbursement scheme
    • Minibuses used for community transport (extended until October 2025)
    • Taxis
    • Historic vehicles
    • Specialist non-road going vehicles
    • Showman's vehicles
  • Premature air pollution deaths by borough

    Borough

    Attributable deaths (multi pollutant estimate)

    Lowest estimate

    Highest estimate

    Barking and Dagenham

    84

    97

    Barnet

    177

    201

    Bexley

    139

    162

    Brent

    133

    149

    Bromley

    172

    204

    Camden

    99

    109

    City of London

    4

    4

    Croydon

    168

    196

    Ealing

    147

    165

    Enfield

    142

    164

    Greenwich

    113

    129

    Hackney

    86

    96

    Hammersmith and Fulham

    74

    83

    Haringey

    90

    101

    Harrow

    102

    118

    Havering

    149

    178

    Hillingdon

    135

    155

    Hounslow

    114

    128

    Islington

    90

    100

    Kensington and Chelsea

    70

    77

    Kingston upon Thames

    76

    87

    Lambeth

    112

    126

    Lewisham

    111

    127

    Merton

    87

    100

    Newham

    98

    111

    Redbridge

    124

    142

    Richmond upon Thames

    86

    98

    Southwark

    109

    121

    Sutton

    101

    118

    Tower Hamlets

    88

    97

    Waltham Forest

    102

    116

    Wandsworth

    115

    129

    Westminster

    100

    110

  • The consultation closes on 29 July 2022 at 2359. To respond go to: gov.uk/clean-air
Channel website: https://tfl.gov.uk/

Original article link: https://tfl.gov.uk/info-for/media/press-releases/2022/may/tfl-seeks-views-on-expanding-world-leading-ulez-london-wide

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