The recent expansion of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone has led to disagreements about how the change will benefit those in low-income households.
Mayor Sadiq Khan’s decision to expand the ULEZ has been met with mixed opinions online, with environmental groups celebrating the effort to make the capital greener.
Global Action Plan, who founded Clean Air Day, supported the move, suggesting “many Londoners lives will be saved and health improved”.
Speaking to Voice of London, Global Action Plan’s Director of Clean Air, Larissa Lockwood defends the decision, despite the financial struggles it may cause: “Those living in the most deprived areas of London are more likely to breathe toxic air, yet are the least likely to own a car.”
Are you ready for the London #ULEZ expansion on Monday? 🎉
— Global Action Plan (@globalactplan) October 22, 2021
The change aims to reduce air pollution in London, which is said to be responsible for reducing life expectancy for up to 9,400 people each year, according to London Air.
But many Londoners are concerned over the financial effect the expansion will have. Speaking to Voice of London, Suzanne Willis, a NHS nurse, said: “I’m on a basic wage, have to pay my own parking at work and now this will be an extra cost. My first few hours on shift will just cover my travel expense.”
What does the ULEZ expansion cover?
The zone now covers the areas in between the North and South Circular roads, with non-compliant vehicles driving within the boundaries having to pay £12.50 per day, according to Transport for London.
Cars and vans considered ‘non-compliant’ include petrol vehicles made before 2006 and diesels manufactured before 2015. The majority of Londoners will not be affected by the change, said the London Assembly: “Four out of five cars driving in the expanded ULEZ on an average day are already compliant.”
But drivers with non-compliant vehicles are worried about how the expansion will affect them, some calling it a “cash grab” on the Mayor’s behalf.
One London Assembly Member, Keith Prince, is calling for the changes to be delayed in order to allow Londoners to make plans and save up for compliant vehicles.
In a letter to the Mayor, he said: “London has faced uncertainty and economic damage from repeated lockdowns and restrictions as we battled the virus. It’s absurd to think that Londoners could have used this time to prepare for ULEZ expansion.”
Today I've written to the Mayor requesting that he delay ULEZ expansion until next year to allow Londoners time to recover and prepare.
Rushing the expansion so soon after the pandemic will be devastating for London.
My full letter 👇 pic.twitter.com/kD1EttBm4Q
— Keith Prince (@KeithPrinceAM) October 15, 2021
If you want to know how you will be affected, the London Assembly website has guidelines here.
Words: Sarah Chaffey | Subbing: Megan Milstead