Polluting drivers may have to pay across London

This area was expanded last year to encompass a much larger area – between the northern and southern ring roads – which is home to almost four million people.

Sadiq Khan said on Friday he had asked Transport for London to consult on expanding the London-wide ULEZ scheme in 2023 “to make London a greener, healthier and less congested city”.

The population of Greater London is approximately nine million people.

“The triple challenge of tackling toxic air pollution, the climate emergency and congestion means we need to further reduce vehicle emissions in London,” Khan said.

“We just don’t have time to waste. There is still far too much toxic air pollution which permanently damages the lungs of young Londoners and leads to thousands of deaths each year, with the highest number of deaths attributable to air pollution in the outer boroughs of London .

“In weighing the various options, the rising cost of living was a key consideration for me…I’m not prepared to ask people to pay more unless I’m absolutely convinced it’s justified to save lives,” he added.

Khan’s office claimed the expansion would reduce nitrogen dioxide emissions by 285 to 330 tonnes, carbon dioxide emissions by 135,000 to 150,000 tonnes and the number of “the dirtiest cars on the roads of London” from 20,000 to 40,000 a day.

Air pollution caused around 1,000 annual hospitalizations for asthma and serious lung conditions in London between 2014 and 2016, according to a 2019 report.

A coroner ruled in 2020 that air pollution made a ‘material contribution’ to the death of a nine-year-old girl in London in 2013 – the first time in Britain that air pollution was officially listed as the cause of death.

Some have objected to the previous expansion of ULEZ, arguing that it is a “tax” on the poorest drivers least able to afford to replace their polluting vehicles and that it would affect small enterprises.

The charge applies to cars, motorcycles, small vans and minibuses and is based on their declared emissions rather than their age.

Petrol cars first registered after 2005 and diesel cars after September 2015 generally meet ULEZ standards and are exempt.

Those who drive a vehicle in the city center at peak times must also pay a #15 congestion charge, a measure first introduced in 2003.

Mary I. Bruner