ULEZ expansion clears the air for millions of Londoners, says City Hall report

Posted: 21 July 2022 | | No comments yet

The new report assesses the impact the expanded ULEZ zone has had in its first six months, finding that the levels of harmful pollution has fallen by 20 per cent in inner London and over 40 per cent in central London.

ULEZ Ultra Low Emission Zone

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has revealed that four million Londoners living within his expanded Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) are now breathing cleaner air following the zone’s expansion in Autumn 2021.

On 25 October 2021, the ULEZ in central London expanded to cover all areas inside the North and South Circular roads, 18 times the size of the original zone. Now a new report from City Hall has assessed the impact the expanded zone has had in its first six months, finding that the number of older, more polluting vehicles driving in central and inner London and the levels of harmful pollution Londoners are exposed to have both fallen substantially.

The report shows that 94 per cent of vehicles seen driving in the zone now meet the strict ULEZ standards on an average day, up from 87 per cent in the weeks before the zone expanded and up from 39 per cent in February 2017, when changes associated with the ULEZ began. There were also 67,000 fewer non-compliant vehicles in the zone on an average day compared to the period right before the ULEZ expanded, a fall of 54 per cent. Early estimates suggest the number of vehicles overall in the zone has also fallen by around 21,000. ULEZ has also helped prevent a return to previous pollution levels after the pandemic, even as traffic returned to close to 2019 levels.

These factors combined mean that the four million Londoners living within the expanded ULEZ are now breathing cleaner air than they would have without the scheme. NO2 concentrations in inner London are estimated to be 20 per cent lower than they would have been without the ULEZ and its expansion. In central London, NO2 concentrations are estimated to be 44 per cent lower.

The benefits are also being felt beyond the zone, with all monitoring sites on the boundary of the expanded zone having also seen reductions in NO2 concentrations.

Plans announced for city-wide expansion of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone

However, the report shows that there is still more work to do to ensure all Londoners can experience the benefits of cleaner air. Compliance rates and air quality improvements in outer London – which is not currently covered by the ULEZ – continue to lag well behind those in central and inner London. This is why the Mayor has asked Transport for London (TfL) to consult on expanding the ULEZ London-wide in August 2023.

The new report comes as Sadiq Khan, in his roles as Mayor of London and Chair of C40 Cities, convenes a meeting of representatives from 16 global cities, health experts, youth activists and union leaders at City Hall. They will work together over the next three days to accelerate city-led action related to the triple threat of air pollution, the climate emergency and congestion.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “Today’s (19 July 2022) report shows the incredible difference that the expanded ULEZ is making after just six months. We must now capitalise on this success which is why I’m consulting on expanding the ULEZ London-wide to extend the benefits of clean air to all Londoners.”

Mark Watts, Executive Director, C40 Cities said: “Air pollution is a deadly problem in cities across the world. Road transport is the single largest source of toxic air pollution in London, leading to severe respiratory issues and devastating premature deaths. Today’s report show’s the real difference bold ambitious plans can make. By expanding the Ultra Low Emission Zone, Mayor Khan has put the health of all Londoners first and ensuring no-one is left behind.”

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