New ULEZ expansion tax will ‘burden’ drivers later this year

Sadiq Khan grilled on popularity of ULEZ scheme

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London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone will expand yet again on August 29, 2023, in a bid to reduce transport emissions in the capital. To mitigate the impact of the expansion on drivers, Transport for London has launched a £110million scrappage scheme to help accelerate the switch to cleaner vehicles.

Eligible applicants could receive a payment to scrap their vehicle, or choose a lower payment plus one or two TfL Annual Bus and Tram passes worth more than the payment alone.

Petrol vehicles registered after 2006 and diesel vans registered since 2016 will evade the charge, under which drivers must pay £12.50 a day to enter the zone. 

Despite this, many are furious with the decision to expand the emissions-based charging zone, citing the impact it will have on drivers in surrounding areas.

The ULEZ will now include an additional five million people when it encompasses the City of London and all 32 boroughs.

Clive Holland, broadcaster on Fix Radio, discussed the effect of the ULEZ expansion on tradespeople when it comes into effect later this year.

He said: “I have to say from a personal point of view I think through the pandemic our industry was asked to continue to build which we did. 

“Without the construction industry, the UK economy would collapse – you’ve seen a lot of strikes recently but if tradespeople ever decided to strike it would cause significant issues throughout the UK. 

“Tradespeople haven’t had the pat on the back that they deserve for helping through the pandemic and putting themselves in dangerous situations.”

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The Greater London Authority estimate that more than four out of five drivers in outer London won’t be affected.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has continued to highlight the positive effects of the existing ULEZ scheme and how it has slashed emissions and reduced car use.

Overall, there were 21,000 fewer vehicles seen in the zone on an average day (a reduction of two percent) and early estimates suggest traffic flows are around two percent lower than the weeks before the October 2021 expansion launched.

Large and heavy vehicles, which fall under the London-wide LEZ, have a compliance rate of 96 percent, up from an estimated 48 percent in February 2017.

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Mr Holland continued, highlighting how hard it will hit tradespeople after numerous changes in the past few years.

He added: “When the ban on red diesel came, the ULEZ extension, the general taxation of vehicles and the electric vans requirement, they are all burdens to tradespeople which seriously affects their income. 

“It is not only happening in London it’s happening in cities around the UK including Birmingham and Bath, the tradesperson who is going about their daily job I think is being victimised. 

“Particularly at this time with Brits battling inflation and recession it means that customers are turning down jobs because they can’t afford it and tradespeople are encountering extra fees, such as the ULEZ charge which makes jobs less desirable.”

Harmful NO2 (nitrogen dioxide) concentrations alongside roads in inner London are estimated to be 20 percent lower than they would have been without the ULEZ and its expansion. 

In central London, NO2 concentrations are estimated to be 44 percent lower than they would have been. Alex Williams, TfL’s Chief Customer and Strategy Officer, said: “Any premature death and disease linked to poor air quality is unacceptable. 

“Londoners are already choosing public transport, walking and cycling for the majority of trips and the Mayor’s new scrappage scheme, the largest of its kind, will support more people to get rid of their highly polluting vehicles and make the switch to greener travel. £110million has been made available to support those Londoners that need it most to get rid of the dirtiest vehicles. 

“These grants will play a significant role in ensuring smaller businesses, those on low incomes, disabled people and charities are fully prepared ahead of the expanded zone coming in later this year.”

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