Why is ULEZ being expanded and what are the goals of the initiative?

  • london
  • April 3, 2023
  • Comments Off on Why is ULEZ being expanded and what are the goals of the initiative?
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ULEZ this, ULEZ that. The Ultra Low Emission Zone expansion has been a big focus on chatter around the capital lately, and lez be honest, it’s been mostly negative.

And it’s easy to understand why it might seem like another expense to hit hard working people already struggling during the cost of living crisis.

The initiative, which was introduced by the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, charges vehicles that don’t meet minimum eco requirements a fee to drive through select areas.

Drivers driving typically older cars that contribute to air pollution are charged £12.50 a day to drive in any of the designated zones. And from this August, the ULEZ areas are expanding to cover a lot more ground.

But – and there’s always a but – there are some bigger picture goals around the ULEZ that suggest it might be a price worth paying.

Want to know why the expansion isn’t all bad news? Read on to find out more…

Why is ULEZ expanding?

The Ultra Low Emission Zone is expanding across all London boroughs on August 29, in a bid to bring clean air to 5 million more people, so says the London Assembly.  

Fresh air is good. Pollution is bad.

And, in fact, air pollution causes thousands of Londoners to die prematurely and develop life-changing illnesses like cancer, lung disease, dementia and asthma each year.

According to the World Health Organization guidance, currently every outer London borough exceeds the safe limit for toxic air particles – so more people are likely to be getting needlessly sick.

What has ULEZ achieved so far?

If you want to break it down to facts and figures, readily available statistics from the Mayor’s office and the ULEZ Year One report state that the results so far include:

  • An almost 50 percent reduction in toxic Nitrogen Dioxide (NOx) pollution in central London
  • Pollution has decreased five times faster in London than anywhere else in the UK (between 2016 and 2020)
  • One million hospitalisations averted in total by 2050
  • 94 percent of vehicles seen driving in the current zone now meet the strict emissions standards on an average day, significantly higher than the 39 percent in 2017 when the ULEZ was first announced.

What might the ULEZ expansion achieve?

According to the London Assembly, based on modelling, the ULEZ expansion’s benefits can be summed up as:

  • A reduction of nearly 10 percent of NOx emissions from cars in outer London on top of the 30 per cent reduction in road transport NOx emissions expected from the current ULEZ and tighter Low Emission Zone standards
  • A reduction in exhaust emissions from cars in outer London by nearly 16 percent leading to a 1.5 percent overall reduction in emissions  London-wide   
  • The number of cars not meeting the tough ULEZ standards each day would fall from 160,000 to 46,000 and the number of vans not meeting the standards each day would fall from 42,000 to 26,000 
  • 46,000 fewer car trips (a nearly 2 percent reduction), with direct reductions in greenhouse gas emissions as well as other pollutants.

If these facts have softened your stance on ULEZ, there’s even better news. There’s a scrappage scheme in place to help people move towards ULEZ-friendly vehicles.

MORE : How does Ulez differ from the congestion charge – and do you need to pay both?

MORE : Which UK cities have ULEZ or Clean Air Zones including Birmingham and Portsmouth

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