Expanding the ULEZ will help to bring cleaner air to five million more residents than currently benefit from it, with Mayor Sadiq Khan stating that the current toxic air, alongside the climate emergency, made its introduction a health imperative.
Extra revenue from the scheme would go towards supporting public transport and according to current TfL estimates, that equates to around 160,000 cars and 42,000 vans which would be charged from next August. That could generate revenue of around £2m per day should all those vehicles still want to enter the ULEZ by next year.
Those on lower incomes are most likely to be affected by the expansion most, so to help alleviate this, a £110m scrappage scheme is being implemented to help people either replace or retrofit non-compliant cars.
That said, compliance will mean petrol cars at Euro 4 or newer and diesel cars at Euro 6 or newer, so the former will mean most cars from 2005 and the latter from 2014. TfL reckons that tens of thousands of non-compliant car owners will switch in the meantime. There will also be a ‘grace period’ which will apply to vehicles owned by the disabled, as well as the offer of more free bus passes to some demographics. These aren’t just piecemeal offerings, with TfL promising “significant improvements to the outer London bus network, making public transport a more attractive alternative to the car”.
Obviously, despite the numerous advantages around reducing toxic air which is responsible for ill-health, chronic disease and premature death, not to mention the £5bn per year that congestion costs the economy, Conservatives and other lobbying groups aren’t happy.
Conservatives in the Greater London Assembly are mounting a legal challenge against the expansion of breathable air, using the cost of living crisis – itself burdened upon the poorest by Conservative policy – as a reason why the wider ULEZ introduction is unjust.
Whether the legal challenge will go anywhere is to be seen, but failing that, we can look forward to marginally cleaner air in the capital come August next year. You can find a map of the new zone as well as a vehicle compliance checker on the TfL website.
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