Sadiq Khan has been slammed for bringing in a ‘devastating’ extension to the Ultra Low Emission Zone as Londoners battle to get back on their feet after the pandemic.
The Mayor was urged to wait a year before expanding the £12.50-a-day charge, which will even hit those living inside the boundary and comes on top of the congestion charge.
Tories blasted the move as ‘absurd’ and warned people had not been able to prepare for the changes while the nation fought off Covid-19.
ULEZ covers central London from Westminster to the City of London but will expand up to the North and South Circular Road on October 25 from Lewisham to Haringey, Ealing to Newham.
It operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and sees vehicles needing to meet strict emissions standards or drivers must pay a £12.50 daily charge.
All types of vehicles are affected by the fare apart from black taxis – meaning ambulances, Ubers, delivery drivers and buses will still bear the brunt.
To be exempt, petrol cars, vans and minibuses must meet the Euro 4 emissions standard, which covers all vehicles registered after January 1, 2006.
Diesels must meet Euro 6, which counts for ones rolled out after September 2015, while all electric cars are and hybrids are if they Euro 4 or 6 compliant.
When the new scheme is brought in it means the oldest cars that can be driven in London without paying are a four-year-old diesel or a 13-year-old petrol.
GLA Conservatives blasted the move as ‘harmful in normal times’ but said it would be ‘devastating’ after the past 20 months.
The warning comes as Mr Khan visits the ULEZ control centre at Capita, just 10 days before the expansion of the zone.
The Mayor is today urged to wait before extending the boundary of the green scheme as it was ‘absurd’ to think people had been able to prepare amid Covid. ULEZ covers central London from Westminster to the City of London (shown in red) but will expand up to, but not including, the North and South Circular Road (shown in yellow), on October 25
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan during a visit to the London Electric Vehicle Company in Coventry with Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street today
GLA Conservatives slammed the policy as ‘harmful in normal times’ but said it would be ‘devastating’ after the past 20 months (file photo)
GLA Conservatives’ letter to Sadiq Khan in full:
Dear Mr Mayor
I am writing to request that you delay the expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) until next year to allow Londoners time to recover and prepare. When you announced your plan to expand the ULEZ charge up to the North and South Circulars in June 2018, Londoners had over three years’ notice of the significant change.
However, the coronavirus crisis has significantly impacted upon the ability of people and businesses to use that time to prepare. From March 2020 to July 2021, 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.
No Londoner bought a new car while they worried about their livelihood and stayed at home. No business could upgrade their vans or heavy vehicles after they furloughed staff and closed their doors to save lives. And no charity could have bought a cleaner minibus when donations crashed. For 16 months, London was unable to prepare for ULEZ.
The current timetable for ULEZ expansion will see the charge expanded only three months after restrictions ended on the 19th of July. That’s not enough time to recover, let alone prepare for ULEZ following the biggest economic crash in the UK’s economy for 300 years. Following the pandemic, it’s harder than ever to buy a compliant vehicle. The average asking price for a second-hand car has soared by 15.2 per cent as the country has reopened.
Londoners hoping to go electric face a year-long wait for new vehicles due to a global shortage of semiconductors. There’s little to no help available for Londoners who can’t afford to switch their vehicle. Sole traders and small businesses haven’t been able to apply for a Transport for London scrappage grant since the scheme for vans and heavy vehicles closed last summer due to high demand.
Only a third of low-income and disabled applicants seeking a grant to scrap their noncompliant car or motorcycle have received a pay-out. Many more people on low incomes are excluded from this scheme altogether as only those on certain benefits can apply. That’s why I am writing to request that you delay the expansion of ULEZ until next year. A delay will give London time to recover and prepare for the charge.
I also urge you to help Londoners who can’t afford to switch vehicles by adopting the GLA Conservatives’ plan to invest £50 million in ULEZ scrappage schemes. The money is available and sitting in City Hall’s business rate reserve. This sizable investment would enable you to re-open the two closed schemes for sole traders and small businesses and widen the third scheme for low-income and disabled Londoners to include those earning less than £30,000.
London can’t afford for you to rush the ULEZ expansion so soon after the pandemic. In normal times this policy would be harmful. But it will be devastating for those whose livelihoods still hang in the balance in tough times like these.
Keith Prince AM
GLA Conservatives’ transport spokesman Keith Prince AM will send a letter, seen by MailOnline, to Mr Khan calling for a delay to the extension.
He wrote: ‘I am writing to request that you delay the expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone until next year to allow Londoners time to recover and prepare.
‘When you announced your plan to expand the ULEZ charge up to the North and South Circulars in June 2018, Londoners had over three years’ notice of the significant change.
‘However, the coronavirus crisis has significantly impacted upon the ability of people and businesses to use that time to prepare.
‘From March 2020 to July 2021, 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.’
He added: ‘London can’t afford for you to rush the ULEZ expansion so soon after the pandemic. In normal times this policy would be harmful.
‘But it will be devastating for those whose livelihoods still hang in the balance in tough times like these.’
The move will force owners of more-polluting vehicles that do not comply with strict emission standards to pay a £12.50 daily fee – in addition to the congestion charge.
The Mayor will make the zone 18 times larger than it is currently meaning 100,000 more cars, 35,000 vans and 3,000 lorries will be affected.
Lorries and buses who do not pay the fees will be slapped with a £100 fine. The AA put its estimate at the number of motorists affected at 350,000.
Campaign group Stop ULEZ said there are alternatives to the green scheme and wants the mayor to call it off.
Its website says instead of bringing it in councils should smooth out traffic, be smarter with buses, plant more trees and take lorries off city routes.
Waltham Forest Councillor John Moss, who runs the website, said: ‘I support the proposal to delay the implementation of the expanded ULEZ.
‘The justification for expansion was marginal at best and likely to hit carers, cleaners and shift-working nurses rather than company car drivers and commercial users, most of whom have now upgraded to compliant vehicles in response to the creation of the central London zone.’
Mr Khan was today at the ULEZ control centre at Capita, just 10 days before the expansion of the zone
He said: ‘I’m committed to building bridges between London and the rest of our country and showcasing how the capital can help the national recovery and the levelling up agenda.
‘Together, Capita’s TfL contracts and the state-of-the-art London Electric Vehicle Company in Coventry employ 2,200 people in the West Midlands and North of England, showing clearly how London relies on the skills of other regions and that investment in our capital can help create quality green jobs across the country.
‘Tackling the climate crisis and growing our economy across the UK is about regions working together and investing in new technologies.
‘London is ready and willing to play its part in ensuring a strong and green national recovery from this terrible pandemic.’
Transport for London estimated its total income from the expanded ULEZ, along with congestion charge and low emission zones, will hit £762million this financial year.
Mr Khan was today at the ULEZ control centre at Capita, just 10 days before the expansion of the zone
Transport for London estimated its total income from the expanded ULEZ, along with congestion charge and low emission zones, will hit £762million this financial year. Pictured: Mr Khan today
This map shows the area of the congestion charge which drivers pay to enter Central London
Will your recent buy be hit by ULEZ charges?
The Alliance of British Drivers’ list of cars which just fell foul of ULEZ:
- 2015 Citroen C3 Edition 1.6 Bluehdi 100 Edition 5dr 90bhp
- 2015 Citroen C4 1.6 e-HDi Airdream VTR+ Hatchback 5dr Diesel 115bhp
- 2015 Ford Fiesta 1.6 TDCi ECOnetic Style 5dr 94bhp
- 2015 Ford Focus 1.6 TDCi 115 Zetec 5dr 113bhp
- 2015 Fiat Panda 1.2 MULTIJET POP 5d 75 BHP
- 2015 Fiat 500 Lounge1.3 Multijet 3dr 95bhp
- Check if YOUR car means you have to pay the charge here
Between 2022 and 2023, this number could hit £1.157billion. Petrol cars must comply with the Euro 4 engine standards – usually vehicles registered from January 2006 – or face paying the fee.
Meanwhile, diesel cars will need to pay up unless they meet the Euro 6 standard – meaning they were registered after September 2015.
The capital’s Ultra Low Emission Zone – which was introduced in 2019 – will cover the streets inside the North and South Circular roads under Khan’s new plans.
The move will come into force on October 25.
Meanwhile Mr Khan was berated for using Covid as an excuse to cancel London’s famous New Year’s Eve fireworks display.
Sajid Javid urged the Mayor to think again about the controversial decision to cancel the display.
Mr Khan was branded a killjoy this week when he announced he was scrapping the celebration because of ‘uncertainty caused by Covid’.
But Mt Javid dismissed Covid as an excuse for ditching the display, which attracts 100,000 revellers to the capital.
Urging Mr Khan to reconsider, he last night said the event was a ‘fantastic advert for London’.
What are the charging times for London drivers?
- Congestion Charge: 7am to 10pm, seven days of the week, every day of the year, except December 25.
- Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ): Operates 24 hours a day, every day of the year, except December 25.
- Low Emission Zone (LEZ): Operates 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
- Direct Vision Standard (DVS) and HGV Safety Permit: Operates at all times for lorries over 12 tonnes gross vehicle weight.
‘I can’t understand why the fireworks can’t happen,’ Mr Javid told LBC’s Nick Ferrari.
‘I think there’s a perfectly safe way that it can take place, so I really don’t understand that decision. But that’s not a decision for the Government.. It’s the Mayor’s firework display, so I hope he can reconsider it.’
The London Mayor’s office ruled out a change of heart, saying that plans were already in train for an alternative ‘spectacular New Year’s Eve event’.
A spokesman said: ‘It takes a year to organise an event of this magnitude, and for most of that year we have been in lockdown and Covid uncertainty with the Government unable to confirm if mass gatherings would be able to go ahead.
‘To arrange an event on the Thames which had to then be cancelled would have wasted millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money at a time of major financial pressures.’
ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE ULEZ
The ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) was introduced in London in April 2019. Here are some of the key questions around the scheme:
What is it? The ULEZ is a way of charging vehicles which emit the most nitrogen oxide for entering parts of London.
When does it apply? The daily charge runs from midnight to midnight every day.
Where is it happening? The scheme is within the same area as the congestion charging zone, before being expanded to within the North and South Circular roads from October 2021.
What vehicles are included? All vehicles are affected apart from black taxis.
How much does it cost to enter the zone with an older vehicle? It costs £12.50 for most vehicle types, including cars, motorcycles and vans. Heavier vehicles such as lorries, buses and coaches are liable for a £100 charge.
How can I avoid the charge? To be exempt from the Ulez charge, petrol cars, vans and minibuses must meet the Euro 4 emissions standard and diesels must meet Euro 6. That means the oldest cars that can be driven in central London without paying are roughly a four-year-old diesel model or a 13-year-old petrol model.
What happens if I don’t pay? If you fail to pay the charge, car drivers face a £160 Penalty Charge Notice (reduced to £80 if paid within 14 days). Lorry drivers will be handed a much larger fine of £1,000 (reduced to £500 if paid within 14 days).
What if I don’t know my vehicle’s emissions standard? Drivers can check whether their vehicle is liable for a charge by entering its registration on the Transport for London website.
Why was ULEZ introduced? London Mayor Sadiq Khan says the scheme will improve the capital’s air quality, which he says is responsible for thousands of premature deaths and other serious conditions.
Has there been any opposition to the scheme? Conservatives on the London Assembly claim Mr Khan’s decision to introduce the scheme earlier than planned could catch out some motorists – particularly those from the poorest households – who have not already upgraded their vehicle to a newer model. They also warn that expanding the zone to the whole of inner London will not effectively tackle pollution and will affect people and businesses in areas with low pollution.
What vehicles are covered by ULEZ?
It’s not just cars and vans that will be subject to extra charges in London.
These ULEZ non-compliant vehicles will also be impacted:
- Motorcycles, mopeds, motorised tricycles, quadricycles
- 4X4 light utility vehicles and picksups
- Motorised horseboxes
- Ambulances and fire engines
- Buses and coaches
- Breakdown & recovery vehicles
- Snow ploughs and gritters
- Refuse collection vehicles and road sweepers
- Concrete mixers and tippers