Since its introduction in 2019, London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) has more than halved the number of vehicles not adhering to the strict air pollution rules, Transport for London (TfL) has said.
In a new report, the body found that there was just 39 per cent compliance across the capital in February 2017 when the mayor of London Sadiq Khan confirmed the introduction of the Toxicity Charge as a stepping stone towards the ULEZ.
That figure has now risen 95 per cent across both inner and outer London. The number of older, more polluting non-compliant vehicles seen driving in London on an average day has decreased by 77,000 compared to June 2023 – a reduction of 45 per cent.
In outer London there has been a 10 percentage point increase in compliance since the launch of the consultation to expand the ULEZ across all London boroughs, the report also found.
ULEZ was originally announced under the previous mayor Boris Johnson in March 2015 with a proposed introduction in September 2020. Khan subsequently brought this forward to April 2019 when he came into office. It was designed to tackle harmful pollutants such as nitrogen oxide and particulates that are associated with an increased risk of asthma, heart and lung disease, cancer and dementia, alongside around 4,000 premature deaths every year in London.
The zone initially covered Central London – the same area as the existing London congestion charge – but was later expanded to the outer boroughs, resulting in a near-£100m increase in revenues for TfL.
The £12.50 charge applies 24 hours a day and applies to most petrol cars made before 2006, most diesel cars manufactured prior to 2015 and most motorcycles made before 2007. The money raised is invested in the transport network and other measures to reduce air pollution in London.
The mayor funded a £160m scrappage and retrofit scheme to help Londoners, small businesses and charities switch to cleaner, greener modes of transport.
But a study earlier this year found that low-income Londoners faced a shortage of second-hand vehicles that are compliant with new rules.
In August 2023, TfL expanded the eligibility of the scrappage scheme, meaning all Londoners can now apply for up to £2,000 to scrap a car or up to £1,000 to scrap a motorcycle.
“I’ve always said that the decision to expand the ULEZ was very difficult, but a month on from the expansion we can already see that it is working,” Khan said.
“More than 19 in 20 vehicles on London’s roads are now compliant and do not need to pay the daily ULEZ charge.
“This data is a testament to the huge progress we’ve made in tackling toxic air pollution since I was first elected in 2016. Londoners are experiencing a greener, cleaner and healthier city.”
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