London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) will be expanded on 29 August 2023. It will operate London-wide across all London boroughs, up to the current Low Emission Zone (LEZ) boundary. To be clear, this means five million more Londoners will soon breathe cleaner air.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, announced the expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone London-wide as an action to address the damage from air pollution, the climate emergency, and congestion. More directly, it is to ensure that five million more Londoners will be able to breathe cleaner air. Vehicles must meet strict emission standards to drive in the ULEZ area. Vehicles that do not meet the standards must pay the £12.50 daily charge. Mayor Sadiq Khan published a report in April 2020 on improving air quality in the global city, and his administration has been continuing the wise policy of cleaning up London’s air since then. The report showed dramatic improvements in air quality on London’s roads as a result of the halving of traffic in London due to the coronavirus lockdown.
It will continue to operate 24 hours a day, every day of the year except Christmas Day. Tfl is eliminating the $10 annual per vehicle auto-pay registration fee in order to make it easier for people who own non-compliant vehicles to pay the fee. According to London.gov, if you own a non-compliant vehicle, you have the option of walking, cycling, taking public transport, or using shared mobility instead of paying the £12.50 daily fee.
Mayor Sadiq Khan also empathizes, “The rising cost of living has been a key consideration for me. That’s why I’m announcing that we will be introducing our biggest scrappage scheme yet — £110m — to support Londoners on lower incomes, disabled Londoners, small businesses and charities to scrap or retrofit their non-compliant vehicles. All the money raised by ULEZ will be pumped back into funding local public transport and I’m pleased to announce today that we are planning the biggest ever expansion of the bus network in outer London.”
Those in London who are receiving certain means-tested benefits and non-means-tested disability benefits can apply for grants of up to £2,000 to scrap their non-compliant cars or motorcycles. This time, the scrappage scheme includes an option to get more money overall if you take part of your payment in the form of a bus and tram season ticket. The scheme opens for applications on 30 January 2023. Here’s more from the city government:
- As a new feature, successful applicants can choose to receive a lower grant value and up to two free annual bus and tram passes. Disabled people who want to scrap a non-compliant wheelchair accessible vehicle and those with certain other adaptations will be able to apply for grants of £5,000 to reflect the higher cost of these vehicles. Disabled people can also apply for a nominated driver who lives at a different address if they do not drive themselves.
- For example, someone who trades in their car and takes part-cash and two annual bus and tram season tickets would increase the overall value of their package by more than 50% (£3,064 including £1,200 in cash). This compares to £2,000 for the cash only scrappage option.
- Charities, sole traders and micro-businesses registered in London can apply to scrap a van (£5,000 grant) or a minibus (£7,000 grant), retrofit certain vans or minibuses (£5,000 grant) or scrap and replace a van or minibus with a fully electric vehicle (£7,500 or £9,500 grant respectively).
The Mayor is Not Kicking the Can Down the Road, Is Helping Public Health Now
Mayor Sadiq Khan: “The latest evidence shows that air pollution is making us sick from cradle to the grave. Londoners are developing life-changing illnesses, such as cancer, lung disease, dementia and asthma. And it’s especially dangerous for children due to the long-lasting impact on their health and life chances, with kids in our city growing up with stunted lungs.
“The ULEZ so far has been transformational, reducing harmful pollution levels by almost a half in central London. But there is still far too much toxic air pollution permanently damaging the health of young Londoners and leading to thousands of early deaths every year, with the greatest number of deaths in the outer London boroughs. Expanding the ULEZ London-wide will mean five million more people will be able to breathe cleaner air and live healthier lives.”
It is about climate change as well, of course, but air pollution is currently killing us and is a crisis of its own. In April of this year, New York Times editor Binyamin Appelbaum wrote, “Enough About Climate Change. Air Pollution Is Killing Us Now.” The point is not to stop fighting climate change, but rather to also focus strongly on the problems of air pollution hurting humans every day.
Mayor Sadiq Khan continues:
“Expanding the ULEZ London-wide has not been an easy decision. The easy thing for me would have been to kick the can down the road. But in the end, public health comes before political expediency. We have too often seen measures delayed around the world to tackle air pollution and the climate crisis because it’s viewed as being too hard or politically inconvenient. But there’s no time to waste when people’s lives are on the line and we are facing a climate crisis. As mayor, I’m not willing to turn a blind eye because it’s clear the cost of inaction – to our economy, to livelihoods, to the environment and the health of Londoners – would be a far too high a price to pay. Expanding ULEZ is the right choice for our city and something that I know will help us to continue building a better, greener, fairer and healthier London for everyone.”
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