Londoners paid nearly £400,000 extra per day after Sadiq Khan's ULEZ expansion

21 October 2022, 18:59

Sadiq Khan expanded the ULEZ last year
Sadiq Khan expanded the ULEZ last year. Picture: Alamy

By Kit Heren

The expanded ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) costs Londoners nearly £400,000 per day, new research claims.

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Mayor Sadiq Khan widened the ULEZ, which makes drivers of cars that do not meet minimum emissions standards pay a £12.50 daily charge to enter, to a much larger area of London last autumn.

That resulted in £93.6 million of extra income for Transport for London (TfL) over an eight-month period, equivalent to £385,000 per day, according to the RAC, a driving organisation.

Sadiq Khan has announced plans to consult on extending the ULEZ so it covers all of London

The ULEZ now covers the north and south circular ring roads, and Mr Khan has said he wants to expand the charge area to all of Greater London to tackle the city's toxic air problem.

TfL maintain that the ULEZ is not about generating money but cleaning up London's air and improving the health of its residents.

Pollution activist defends ULEZ expansion

But RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said last year's expansion meant drivers of non-compliant vehicles faced a "stark choice" of either replacing their vehicle or paying the daily charge.

He went on: "Londoners living outside the current ULEZ will now be worrying about the prospect of further expansion, mooted to be at the end of August 2023.

"While we accept that action is needed to reduce toxic emissions from vehicles, the cost-of-living crisis is hurting drivers in the pocket and there is a risk that further enlarging the zone will be hugely costly for those with older vehicles who can least afford to change them for something newer.

A cyclist approaching the Dawson's Heights development in Dulwich, south London.The ULEZ was expanded much further in north and south London last year
A cyclist approaching the Dawson's Heights development in Dulwich, south London.The ULEZ was expanded much further in north and south London last year. Picture: Getty

"As it is, RAC research suggests drivers are holding on to their vehicles for longer, so there is a real risk that more people with non-compliant vehicles will be forced to pay a charge they can ill afford to.

"We would encourage the mayor to take a pragmatic approach and redouble his efforts to support lower-income families and businesses with non-compliant vehicles with a targeted scrappage scheme ahead of any expansion plans."

Read more: London drivers face fresh hit as Khan launches plans to expand Ulez to whole of city

Mr Khan said that clean air was "a human right".

He told the PA news agency: "There has been no single policy that's improved the air as much as the ULEZ.

"In central London and inner London, we've managed to reduce toxic air by almost a half.

Sadiq Khan has defended the ULEZ expansion
Sadiq Khan has defended the ULEZ expansion. Picture: Getty

"I think clean air is a human right. Why can't those in outer London who suffer the worst air pollution, have the worst numbers of premature deaths, also benefit from clean air?"

Alex Williams, TfL's chief customer and strategy officer, said: "The ULEZ is not about making money, but about improving the health and wellbeing of millions of Londoners.

Read more: ULEZ: Where will it apply and is your car exempt?

"We would rather no one needed to pay the charge, and we expect income to fall over time as even more people switch to more sustainable alternatives.

"Any money received from the ULEZ is reinvested into walking, cycling and public transport."