ULEZ expansion could still go ahead despite two-thirds opposing plans

Sadiq Khan suggests he could still plough on with hated ULEZ expansion despite his own survey showing two-thirds of residents are opposed to the roll out

  • Sadiq Khan today suggested he could push ahead with plans to expand ULEZ
  • He announced earlier this year that the zone could be expanded to all of London
  • The Telegraph reported two-thirds of respondents to TfL survey opposed plan
  • But the London Mayor told the Standard that the survey was ‘not a referendum’ 

Sadiq Khan has signalled that he could drive forward his controversial plans to expand London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), despite two-thirds of residents opposing the scheme in his own survey.

The Mayor of London today suggested he could ignore the results of the consultation because his plan is ‘not a numbers game’ and the survey is ‘not a referendum’.

He also claimed the consultation by Transport for London (TfL), of which he is Chair as part of his role as Mayor, had been ‘hijacked’ – including by people from outside of London.

It comes after the Labour politician was left red-faced following the leak of a survey on his plan to expand his ULEZ scheme to all of Greater London.

According to The Daily Telegraph, the consultation showed that 67 per cent of Londoners oppose his plans to combat air pollution in the outer boroughs of the capital. 

Of those, 60 per cent opposed the expansion complete, while the 7 per cent said the plan should be delayed.

But speaking to The Evening Standard, the Mayor hinted that he could still go ahead with the expansion anyway, because ‘the idea of parking things or kicking the can down the road is not an option’.

He told the paper: ‘The easy option is to dither and delay. I think it is important to take action. I have not made up my mind. What I’m clear about is: it is not a numbers game.

The London Mayor looks set to ignore the results of the consultation, conducted by Transport for London (TfL), because he says the survey is ‘not a referendum’

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has plotted for the Ultra Low Emission Zone to grow more than four times its current size, stretching from Heathrow airport to Upminster and Enfield to Biggin Hill, from the end of 2023 

It comes after the Labour politician was left red-faced following the leak of the survey on his plan to expand his ULEZ scheme to all of Greater London. Pictured: Library image of an ULEZ sign

‘This is not a referendum. If there is a crude majority of people for it, that doesn’t take me over the line, or a crude number of people against it.

‘This is not a referendum [like] Brexit. It’s not about saying if there is a percentage against I won’t do it or a percentage in favour I will do it.’

Mr Khan also claimed the consultation had been ‘hijacked’ by people who had ‘their own self-interest’   

Is your car CAZ, LEZ, ULEZ and ZEZ compliant? 

Knowing your car’s Euro emissions rating is more important than ever, given the increasing number of levies and fines being introduced for older cars, especially diesels. 

Most Clean Air, Low Emission and Ultra Low Emission Zones being – or already – implemented impact pre-Euro 4 emissions petrol and pre-Euro 6 emission diesel cars.

It’s worth using the ULEZ checker online (or via your car’s V5/V5C logbook at the bottom of Page 2 in the section entitled ‘Exhaust Emissions’) to see which category your models falls into, though it roughly will be designated by when it was first registered, as listed below:

Euro 1 – from 31 December 1992

Euro 2 – from 1 January 1997

Euro 3 – from 1 January 2001

Euro 4 – from 1 January 2006 (common minimum standard for petrol cars)

Euro 5 – from 1 January 2011

Euro 6 – from 1 September 2015 (common minimum standard for diesel cars

He added: ‘My interest is addressing the issue of climate change, congestion and air pollution.’

In May, Mr Khan announced plans for an expansion of the Ulez zone to the outskirts of the capital – in a move that will bring in 3.5million more residents of Greater London.

The mayor is proposing to extend the scheme’s boundary from the North and South Circular Roads to the whole of Greater London from August 29, 2023.

Drivers of vehicles which do not comply with minimum emissions standards are charged a daily fee of £12.50 for entering the Ulez.

The mayor’s office estimate that the expansion would mean an additional 135,000 vehicles would be affected. This would rake in almost £1.7million extra per day in charges.

However the plans have been met with opposition, including by motoring groups.

A Freedom of Information (FOI) report from the AA earlier this year found that the proposed scheme could see a third of drivers priced off the road due to its daily charges. 

While the TfL admits that 18 per cent of vehicles will be hit by the charges, information released by the transport networks points to a 34 per cent impact on London car owners in some areas.

The motor breakdown and insurance firm blasted the mayor’s proposals for hitting poorest families the hardest, at a time when they will ‘hopefully’ be seeing the end of the cost-of-living crisis.

It comes after results of TfL’s ULEZ expansion survey showed just 32 per cent of respondents supported Mr Khan’s plan.

The results of the consultation, which have not yet been made public but were leaked to the Telegraph earlier this month, showed a total of 67 per cent opposed the plans. 

Around 60 per cent said they opposed the expansion completely, while seven per cent said they believed the expansion should be delayed. The remaining votes were for ‘Don’t know’. 

At the launch of the consultation earlier this year, Mr Khan’s office warned that the capital is suffering a ‘toxic air crisis’, with around 4,000 premature deaths in 2019 attributed to filthy air.

The boroughs of Barnet, Bromley, Croydon and Havering had the most deaths, demonstrating that poor air quality ‘is not just a central London problem’, according to Mr Khan’s office.

Whether or not a vehicle is liable for the Ulez charge depends on how much nitrogen dioxide (NO2) it emits.

NO2 damages lungs and can exacerbate existing conditions such as asthma and lung and heart disease.

For diesel cars to avoid the charge they must generally have been registered after September 2015, while most petrol models registered from 2005 are exempt.

Jack Cousens, the AA’s head of roads policy, speaking earlier this year following the announcement of the plans, said: ‘The original ULEZ impacted on 300,000 car-owning London residents, the vast majority coming from low-income backgrounds without the ability to afford a replacement vehicle. 

‘This expansion of the zone will price hundreds of thousands more off the road.’ 

He added: ‘These drivers and their families will, hopefully, be starting to recover from the cost of living crisis in August of next year. The London Mayor wants to hit them with a charge or a car-replacement cost that they will never be able to afford.

‘The AA believes that far more can be done in lowering London’s emissions by an expansion of Park & Ride and Park & Cycle facilities on the city’s outskirts. 

‘That benefit would remove the emissions from huge numbers of cars (Cambridge converts 3.6 million inner-city car journeys into bus trips this way each year) long after the ULEZ becomes defunct.

‘With pump prices so high, it calculates that there is little difference in cost to driving from outside into inner London than taking public transport. By train or underground, the journey time is halved, which makes Park and Ride a no-brainer.’

Mr Khan previously ruled out introducing a Clean Air Charge, which would have affected drivers of all but the cleanest vehicles.

Drivers of vehicles which do not comply with minimum emissions standards are charged a daily fee of £12.50 for entering the Ulez

He also decided not to go ahead with a proposal to charge drivers of vehicles registered outside London for entering the capital.

Announcing his plans in March, Mr Khan said: ‘Exposure to toxic air pollution shouldn’t be a postcode lottery.

‘Every Londoner, including those living in outer London, should be able to breathe clean air. That’s why I’ve announced a proposal to expand the ULEZ London-wide in 2023.’

Mr Khan said in an official statement in March: ‘The triple challenges of tackling toxic air pollution, the climate emergency and congestion mean we need to further reduce emissions from vehicles in London. We simply don’t have time to waste.

‘The climate emergency means we only have a small window of opportunity left to reduce carbon emissions to help save the planet.’

He added: ‘This is also a matter of social justice – with air pollution hitting the poorest communities the hardest.

‘Nearly half of Londoners don’t own a car, but they are dis-proportionally feeling the damaging consequences polluting vehicles are causing.

‘If no additional action is taken to reduce air pollution beyond the existing polices, around 550,000 Londoners would develop diseases attributable to air pollution over the next 30 years and the cumulative cost to the NHS and the social care system is estimated to be £10.4 billion.’

Anyone driving into London in a diesel car that doesn’t meet Euro 6 emission standards – generally motors registered after September 2015 – have to pay a daily £12.50 levy to enter the zone.

For petrol car drivers, only vehicles that fail to meet Euro 4 standards – registered after 2005 – are charged under the scheme’s existing rules.

Drivers who fail to pay receive a £160 fine, which is cut to £80 if paid within a fortnight of receiving a penalty notice.

Mr Khan said the expansion covering all 33 boroughs including the City of London would be supported by the ‘biggest scrappage scheme feasible to help Londoners on low incomes, disabled Londoners and businesses’.

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