London Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced that the capital's Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) is to be expanded to cover all areas of London.
Over the last few months, there has been overwhelming opposition to the rumored expansion plans.
In fact, a Transport for London (TfL) public consultation found that 80% of the public in the proposed expansion area was against the plans.
However, Khan has insisted that more than five million more Londoners will benefit from cleaner air as a result of the new area being included in the ULEZ.
Khan said: "The ULEZ so far has been transformational, reducing harmful pollution levels by almost a half in central London.
"But there is still far too much toxic air pollution permanently damaging the health of young Londoners and leading to thousands of early deaths every year, with the greatest number of deaths in the outer London boroughs."
Currently, the most polluting cars will have to pay £12.50 a day to enter the Greater London Authority boundary – although this will now include the expanded area from next year.
The charge applies for a single day – not 24-hour use. So, if you enter in the evening and drive away the following morning, you will have to pay twice.
The new ULEZ area including the rest of the city outside of central London will come into force on 29 August 2023. This is largely the area inside of the M25 motorway.
Disabled drivers will be given a grace period until 2027.
Data from the mayor’s office believes that there are around 200,000 non-compliant cars for the ULEZ that are driven regularly in the city – but expect this to drop over the next few years.
Khan also stated yesterday that he hopes to scrap the scheme along with the city’s congestion charge in the years ahead.
This is because he wishes for London to adopt a ‘Singapore-style’ smart road system that can use cameras to replace the two schemes – however, he did concede that the technology was not available and not enough people were using electric cars.
Following the announcement, Conservatives' transport spokesman Nick Rogers said: "Now is not the time to hammer Londoners with a £12.50 daily cost-of-living charge’.
"Residents have made their views very clear to the mayor: they do not want the ULEZ expansion. The mayor must listen to them, scrap these plans and use the £250 million saved on real measures that tackle air pollution."
An MP in the new ULEZ area, Conservative MP for Carshalton and Wallington Elliot Colburn, stated he was ‘very, very angry’ about the announcement and described Khan’s plans as a ‘disgusting move’.
A lot of the criticism has been attributed to the extra costs drivers will have to pay during the current cost-of-living crisis.
Khan said that this had been a ‘key consideration’ but ‘in the end, public health comes before political expediency’.
RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “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.
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.”
What do you make of the latest ULEZ developments? Do you support Khan’s plans? Leave your comments below. The Mayor's Ultra-Low Emission Zone