Ultra Low Emission Zone expands London-wide
With the London-wide expansion of the ULEZ, the new zone now covers every London borough and will bring cleaner air to five million more people.
Credit: Transport for London
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has, with effect from 29 August 2023, expanded the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) London-wide in a landmark moment that will help to make London a greener, healthier city. The new zone now covers every London borough and will bring cleaner air to five million more people, and is also expected to reduce carbon emissions in outer London by a further 27,000 tonnes.
The Mayor said that the decision to expand the ULEZ was a difficult one, but necessary to save lives, protect the health of Londoners and tackle the climate crisis. Toxic air is leading to children growing up with stunted lungs, an increased risk of asthma, cancer and dementia, and is causing around 4,000 premature deaths every year in London. The Mayor has vowed again to continue being ‘a doer, not a delayer’ when it comes to reducing air pollution and taking bold climate action.
The ULEZ is the centrepiece of a range of measures that the Mayor is implementing to tackle London’s toxic air, including putting a record number of zero-emission buses on the road and making London’s electric vehicle charging network the largest of any city in Europe. These additional measures are making a real difference, but all of the evidence shows that clean air zones like the ULEZ are the most effective tool available to quickly and meaningfully cut air pollution in a city like London, having already reduced air pollution in central London by almost 50% and in inner London by a fifth.
A major public awareness campaign has been underway for eight months to ensure that drivers and businesses are ready for the latest ULEZ expansion, with Transport for London‘s (TfL) online vehicle checker being used more than thirteen million times during this period.
ULEZ is a highly targeted scheme that helps to take the most polluting vehicles off of London’s roads. Ninety percent of cars seen driving in outer London on an average day are already compliant and their drivers will not have to pay the charge but will see the benefits of cleaner air. Having continued to listen to the concerns of Londoners, the Mayor and TfL have massively expanded the scrappage scheme so that every single Londoner affected by the ULEZ can now access thousands of pounds of support, in addition to the scrappage value of their old polluting vehicle.
All Londoners with non-compliant cars can now get £2,000 for scrapping a car or £1,000 for scrapping a motorcycle. Small businesses and charities can now receive increased grant payments of between £6,000 and £11,500. Eligible charities, businesses and sole traders can now apply for up to three vans or minibuses to be scrapped or retrofitted in total. And the payment for wheelchair accessible vehicles has increased from £5,000 to £10,000, with grants of £6,000 available to retrofit a van to ULEZ standards. A number of mitigations have also been made for different groups, including exemptions for disabled people and wheelchair accessible vehicles until October 2027 – and new six-month grace periods also recognise that small businesses and charities are doing the right thing and adapting to the ULEZ but may face a delay with receiving their new vehicle or retrofit appointment.
It has also been revealed that, since opening the scrappage scheme up to all Londoners, there has been a significant spike in the number of people applying for support, with a 111 per cent increase in traffic to the scrappage website since 21 August 2023.
There have already been more than 15,000 applications received since 21 August 2023, and nearly £6 million of new funds committed to Londoners. The number of scrappage applications for cars and motorcycles since 21 August 2023 is up by more than 1,000 per cent on the previous week.
In total, the scrappage scheme has resulted in:
- Nearly £60 million committed to Londoners to help them transition to greener alternatives, including more than £14 million to scrap cars and motorcycles and more than £45 million to scrap vans and minibuses
- More than 14,000 applications being approved to scrap the most polluting vehicles, with tens of thousands being processed.
The total amount that the Mayor has invested in the scrappage scheme for the ULEZ expansion is £160 million, signifying the most generous scrappage scheme ever seen in the UK. The Mayor previously committed more than £60 million for the central London and inner London ULEZ. There is still £100 million of funding available, so the Mayor is encouraging Londoners with non ULEZ-compliant vehicles to come forward to get the financial support on offer, which is available on a first-come, first-served basis. The Mayor continues to call on the UK Government to fund scrappage in London and the Home Counties, as they have done for other cities across the UK.
The ULEZ has already proven to be transformational in London, cutting harmful nitrogen dioxide by nearly half in central London and by a fifth in inner London, helping to reduce the number of air pollution-related asthma admissions for children by a third, and saving 800,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions since 2019 (the equivalent of 1.1 million flights from London to New York).
Any net revenue raised through the ULEZ will be reinvested back into public transport, including on the expansion of bus services in outer London. The ULEZ is expected not to raise any net revenue by the 2026/2027 financial year, as the percentage of compliant vehicles continues to rise.
TfL’s Auto Pay service has also reached a significant milestone. Over one million users are signed up to the scheme, which is now free to register for. For those registered, there is no need to remember to pay charges when driving in London, including following the ULEZ expansion on 29 August 2023, as the payment is taken automatically from their account so that they won’t be issued with a penalty charge notice.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “This is a landmark day for our city which will lead to a greener, healthier London for everyone. The decision to expand the ULEZ London-wide was a difficult one, but necessary to save lives, protect children’s lungs and help to prevent asthma, dementia and other health issues.
“All of the evidence shows that it’s clean air zones like ULEZ that are the gamechanger in a city like London when it comes to cutting toxic air quickly and meaningfully to protect people’s health. It’s thanks to the ULEZ that we are now set to get London’s air to within legal limits in the next couple of years, 184 years earlier than previously projected.
“As Mayor, I’ve continued to listen to the concerns of Londoners, which is why we have massively expanded the scrappage scheme. This means that all Londoners with non ULEZ-compliant cars can now get financial support to switch to greener, less polluting alternatives. We still have millions of pounds left in the scrappage scheme pot, so I encourage all Londoners who are impacted by ULEZ to apply today for the support that we’ve made available. I continue to call on the government to give London and Home Counties money for scrappage, as they have other cities around the UK.
“I’m determined to continue being a doer, not a delayer when it comes to reducing air pollution and taking bold climate action. The easiest thing for me to do would have been to kick the can down the road, but we simply don’t have time to waste. I am not prepared to stand idly by when we have the ability to save lives and help tackle the climate crisis,” he concluded.
Christina Calderato, Transport for London’s Director of Strategy and Policy, said: “Today is a major milestone for cleaner air in the capital as the scheme expands London-wide. The expansion will play a significant role in our fight against the triple challenges of air pollution, the climate emergency and congestion. We know that clearing up the air in the capital is vital, as thousands of people in our city are developing life-changing illnesses due to pollution, such as cancer, lung disease, dementia and asthma. The ULEZ expansion to all London boroughs will help a further five million people living in outer London who suffer from the impacts of air pollution.
“Although the vast majority of those driving in the zone will not have to pay the ULEZ charge, the Mayor’s £160 million scrappage scheme remains open, with millions of pounds left available for all Londoners with non-compliant cars and motorcycles to apply for, to help to remove the most polluting vehicles from the roads. Sole traders and small businesses in London can benefit from increased scrappage payments for vans from £5,000 to £7,000, and can now scrap up to three vehicles. Payments to retrofit a van, minibus or wheelchair accessible vehicle have also been increased to cover the full cost of adapting the vehicle. We’ve already seen a surge in visits to our online vehicle checker this week and continue to allocate significant sums through the scrappage scheme as we help Londoners to prepare. We advise all drivers that are planning to travel into and around the capital to check the TfL website to see if they will be affected by today’s ULEZ expansion and to understand the range of support available to them,” she added.