World’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone expands to cover inner London

ULEZ sign | Hillingdon Today
The new Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is being enforced from today

The new zone is 18 times the size of the central London zone and now covers 3.8 million people. It covers one quarter of London and is the largest zone of its kind in Europe. It will bring the health benefits of cleaner air to millions more Londoners, both inside and outside the newly expanded zone. The scheme will operate 24 hours a day, every day of the year except Christmas Day.

The ULEZ expansion, alongside tighter Londonwide Low Emission Zone standards for heavy vehicles introduced in March, are expected to reduce nitrogen oxides emissions from road transport by 30 per cent across London in 2021.

The ULEZ is also a crucial step towards the Mayor of London’s ambitions to tackle the climate emergency and put London on the path to be a net zero carbon city by 2030. It is also an issue of social justice with the poorest Londoners, and Londoners from ethnic minority backgrounds least likely to own a car but also worst affected by toxic air.

A major awareness campaign has been underway over the past three years to ensure drivers and businesses are ready for the ULEZ expansion, with Transport for London’s online vehicle checker being used more than 20 million times since 2018. Over a million letters have been sent to owners of non-compliant vehicles seen inside the zone.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has provided £61 million in funding for grants for small businesses, charities operating minibuses and low-income and disabled Londoners to scrap their older, more polluting vehicles. However, unlike other Clean Air Zones, London has had no Government support for its scrappage schemes. Despite this, these schemes have helped remove over 12,000 more polluting vehicles from London’s roads, the single biggest such programme in the UK.

Sarah Woolnough, Chief Executive of Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation, said: “Over a quarter of a million Londoners living with asthma and COPD can today look forward to breathing cleaner, healthier air that will reduce their chances of life-threatening asthma attacks and exacerbations, thanks to the ULEZ expansion. Looking across the country, we can see the positive impact that Clean Air Zones are having on communities, making them healthier places for future generations to grow and thrive, by cutting levels of major pollutants that can cause and worsen lung conditions. Whilst this is a huge step in the right direction, we mustn’t be complacent against this invisible threat. The fact of the matter remains that the majority of people living in London, are still living in areas where pollution levels are dangerously high. We therefore look forward to working with the Mayor to ensure ULEZ and other pollution reduction schemes go further and are delivered faster in order to improve the quality of air across the entire capital.”

Anjali Raman-Middleton, 17, Co-founder of Choked Up, said: “We’ve already seen the impact that the ULEZ has had on our air and are thrilled to be supporting its expansion. This is a significant step in cleaning our air and meeting London’s target of carbon-neutrality by 2030. Whilst there is still work to be done to ensure that every Londoner breathes easy, ULEZ expansion will improve the health of millions.”