London boroughs rebel against TfL’s ULEZ expansion plans

January 24, 2023 by

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London councils intend to attempt to block TfL’s plans to expand the Ultra Low Emission Zone

A number of London councils intend to attempt to block plans by Transport for London (TfL) and the city’s Mayor, Sadiq Khan, to expand the Ultra Low Emission Zone this year.

The ULEZ sees drivers of (roughly) pre-2006 petrol cars and (roughly) pre-2015 diesels pay £12.50 every day they drive in the ULEZ, which presently covers all areas inside the North and South Circular roads, but is set to encompass all areas inside the M25 in August with the aim of improving air quality.

A number of organisations and individuals have criticised these plans on the grounds they will unfairly penalise drivers for whom a car is a necessity, but who cannot afford to replace non-compliant vehicles.

Now, several London councils intend to try to stop the expansion, either by potentially challenging its legality, or preventing Transport for London from carrying out works necessary for the zone’s expansion on council-controlled roads.

Hillingdon, Bexley and Bromley councils, all of which are under Conservative rule, have written a joint letter to the Mayor “raising serious concerns around his ULEZ expansion plans and the adverse effects this will have on our residents, businesses and visitors to outer London…this scheme will not translate successfully to outer London and the negative impact to local households and economies will far outweigh the negligible air quality benefits.”

Croydon council’s Conservative Mayor, meanwhile, said that “punishing those who cannot afford to buy a more modern vehicle is deeply unfair and out of touch”, adding that “alongside other outer London authorities, Croydon is exploring options to legally challenge this flawed expansion.”

Liberal Democrat Sutton council intends to try to block TFL from installing the automatic-number-plate-recognition (ANPR) cameras necessary for ULEZ enforcement on its roads, as does Conservative-controlled Harrow. TfL has said that it can install two thirds of the required cameras on top of traffic lights, however, with these works not requiring council permission.

ULEZ expansion confirmed for August 2023

London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is to expand on 29 August 2023, when it will cover almost all areas within the M25.

The £12.50 daily change will mean drivers of diesel cars sold new prior to roughly 2015, and petrol cars sold roughly before 2006, will have to pay £12.50 every time they drive in the zone, even if they are resident in it.

The ULEZ was first introduced in 2019 when it covered the same tiny, central area as the Congestion Charge zone.

It expanded in October 2021 to take in all areas inside the North and South Circular roads, and will expand again in August 2023, when most of Greater London will be covered.

To the north of the capital, the expanded ULEZ will take in areas up to Waltham Cross, to the east it will go as far as Upminster, while western points up to West Drayton and Longford will be affected, as will parts as far south as Coulsdon and Biggin Hill.

Transport for London, which manages the ULEZ, estimates around 200,000 non-compliant cars regularly drive in the area that the expansion will cover.

A £110-million scrappage scheme will be unveiled to help people receiving certain means-tested and disability benefits out of non-compliant cars and into compliant ones, while drivers with disabilities will also have a grace period that will run until October 2027.

Diesel cars not meeting Euro 6 emission standards, and petrol cars not meeting Euro 4, will have to pay to enter the ULEZ, which operates on a 24/7 basis.

Euro 4 standards came into force for new models introduced to the market from January 2005, while all new cars in showrooms had to be compliant by January 2006 before they could be sold.

For Euro 6, cars that were launched from September 2014 had to be compliant, while cars sold new from September 2015 had to meet the standard.

The Telegraph has previously reported that leaked documents from TfL showed that two thirds of Londoners opposed the expansion of the ULEZ.

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