£12.50 daily charge introduced as Ulez expands to include whole of London

Ulez has been expanded to include the whole of the capital, making it the world’s largest pollution charging area (PA)
Ulez has been expanded to include the whole of the capital, making it the world’s largest pollution charging area (PA)

London has become the world’s largest pollution charging area after the ultra-low emission zone (Ulez) was expanded to include the whole of the capital.

People who drive in the zone in a vehicle which does not meet minimum emissions standards are now required to pay a £12.50 daily fee or risk a £180 fine, reduced to £90 if paid within 14 days.

London mayor Sadiq Khan has faced strong opposition to the scheme, although a £160 million scheme run by Transport for London (TfL) enables residents, small businesses, sole traders and charities scrapping non-compliant cars to claim grants.

Ulez expansion
People take part in a protest against the proposed ultra-low emission zone (Ulez) expansion in Tooting, London (PA)

There have been regular protests against the plan and anti-Ulez vigilantes have repeatedly targeted enforcement cameras installed in the new areas in recent months.

Videos have been posted online showing people described as Blade Runners cutting the cameras’ wires or completely removing the devices.

The Metropolitan Police said it had recorded 288 crimes relating to the cameras as of August 1.

Ulez expansion has become a political issue, being blamed for Labour’s failure to win last month’s Uxbridge and South Ruislip parliamentary by-election.

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Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (PA)

In an interview with the PA news agency, the Labour mayor said: “The vast majority of Londoners want to see clean air and I recognise there are some Londoners with genuine concerns.

“My job is to try and address those concerns and I have been doing that.”

Mr Khan said he was “disappointed” at the lack of Government support for the policy and its accompanying scrappage scheme.

He expressed frustration that the scrappage programme has no Government funding, unlike those run in several other English cities.

A map showing Ulez expansion

He said: “It was this Government that gave financial support to cities like Bristol, Birmingham and Portsmouth towards their clean air zones.

“If clean air is right for them then why isn’t clean air right for London?”

A Government spokeswoman said: “Both transport and air quality are devolved to London, which is why they are the direct responsibility of the Mayor of London.

“In fact, the Government has provided TfL £6 billion since 2020 to keep public transport moving and almost £102 million for projects specifically targeted to help tackle air pollution.”

To comply with Ulez standards, petrol cars must generally have been first registered after 2005, while most diesel cars registered after September 2015 are also exempt from the charge.

TfL says nine out of 10 cars seen driving in outer London on an average day are compliant.

Separate figures obtained by the RAC show more than 690,000 licensed cars in the whole of London are likely to be non-compliant.

This does not take into account other types of vehicles or those which enter London from neighbouring counties.

Some opponents of Ulez expansion claim the policy is aimed at generating money for TfL and criticised the mayor for introducing it during the cost of living crisis.

But Mr Khan told PA: “It’s really heartbreaking when you get an in-patients ward and see the consequences of air pollution, but also it is inspiring to see that some of these policies can transform people’s lives.”